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Wednesday April 24, 2024
JUST ENOUGH: Lethargic Norse Rally For 11th Win

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Kairee Gadson, Baril Mawo, and Coach Matt Johnson. Also click to hear Nic Williams player spotllight interview.

It wasn't pretty, but the Bay College Norse men's basketball team found a way in crunch time to beat the Madison College Wolfpack, 77-73, Friday night at the Just-A-Game Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells.

The Norse trailed by eleven points midway through the second half and had a very hard time dealing with the Madison zone defense.

They finally got wake-up call, outscoring the Wolfpack down the stretch, 37-22.

“We played really, really poorly,” Norse Coach Matt Johnson said. “We shot the ball incredibly poorly. But we fought hard enough to just gut out a really ugly win. They did just enough. It didn't come easy, and there were times when they didn't have it going. We've got to be better than this. We're just very fortunate that we made enough plays to figure this out.”

The Norse got a huge boost from Kairee Gadson when they needed it the most. Gadson had a put-back basket inside the paint brought his team to within 55-52.

The Wolfpack answered with a triple at the other end to go up, 58-52, but Gadson once again worked hard in the paint, finished through contact, for an “and-one” basket that made it 58-55.

“Me and coach just had a talk and he told me to stay locked in,” Gadson said. “He said, 'do what you got to do, get to the rack, and find your openings'. In that second half, I was a dog. I found my openings and got to where I needed to, and scored the buckets.”

Genesis Kemp had an outstanding defensive possession at the other end, working through one of Madison's many ball-screens, and forcing a turnover that Baril Mawo got up to Nic Williams. His floater on the baseline brought Bay to within 58-57, and then the Norse got a big turnover that led to a Mawo slam dunk.

The Norse had a 59-58 lead after that 19-7 run, but the Wolfpack weren't finished. And that was mostly because of the play of Deante Luster, who scored 26 of his game-high 30 points in the second half.

Luster nailed a triple to give Madison a 69-66 lead late in the game.

But Mawo brought a ton of energy to a team that had a mostly lackluster performance. After that Luster triple, Mawo keyed an 11-4 game-ending run with strong defense, after Madison was able to beat the Norse to the post on multiple occasion.

“I decided to come and play,” Mawo said. “I'm very passionate on the court, and I just wanted it more. We created a lot of turnovers, which helped us big time. It led us to our fast breaks. We just had to be calm, you know, play through it. I mean, Coach wants us to play our best.”

Williams had the biggest defensive play of the game on Luster in the final seconds, forcing him into a tough shot on the baseline that missed. Williams got the rebound, came down and made one of two free throws to give Bay a two-possession lead.

Williams and Ryan Sweeney both made just enough free throws at the end to help the Norse seal their eleventh win of the season.

“A lot of teams are gonna play zone against us,” Gadson said. “We've got to get better at moving the zone. What we did was, we just took our time, moved the ball a little bit, shot-fake, get to the middle, and look low-post, and go from there.”

The first half was not pretty, with Bay trailing, 27-24, at halftime. They missed all 13 of their three-point shot attempts, and just had a general lack of energy.

Only when they fell behind, 51-40, at the 11:00 mark, did they finally get things going, setting up the down-to-the-wire finish. After a combined 51 points in the first half, the teams combined to put up 99 points in the second half.

“We had a couple guys step up and make big plays down the stretch,” Johnson said.”I thought Nic Williams and Baril both did a nice job down the stretch. And Kairee, it doesn't show up on the stat sheet, but, defensively on their point guard, I thought he did a good job. Genesis gave us some energy on the glass, and on the offensive end, really helped us. There's a lot of good things that happened down the stretch that gave us a chance to win.”

The Norse were led in scoring by Williams, with 22 points. He also grabbed six rebounds.

Mawo was a game-changer, with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots. Gadson had a big 12 points and seven rebounds, and Kemp added six points and seven rebounds.

Madison (5-7) was led by Luster's 30 points and nine rebounds. Antoine Coleman chipped in 14 points on seven-of-ten shooting, and point guard Tyler Mitchell added eleven points and four assists.

Bay College improved to 11-1 on the season, and will be back on the court Saturday afternoon to face the College of DuPage (Ill.). Tip-off is 2:30 Eastern. It will be broadcast live on FM-106.3 and on-line at www.radioresultsnetwork.com.

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