It was a tale of two halves for Western men’s basketball as it fell to the Seattle Mountaineers 98-97 on Sunday, Nov. 8.
Western held a 56-40 lead at halftime and controlled the pace of the game the whole way.
In that first half, the game tied just once and there were no lead changes. In the second half, the game tied five times and the lead changed five times as well.
“We learned that we need to get better at closing out games,” junior forward Jeffrey Parker said.
The game was the Vikings’ second exhibition of the season, both of which were lost late in the game. Western has played five games total for the season, compared to Seattle who has played 12 and is now 11-1.
“They’re a semi-pro team. We held our own and were up the majority of the game,” senior point guard Ricardo Maxwell said. “We feel like we can play with anybody.”
Maxwell led in scoring with 28 points, hitting 6 of his 7 shots from beyond the arc. Maxwell was limited to just 25 minutes when he went down midway through the second half with a knee injury. Maxwell missed some time last year due to injury as well.
“I feel like I’m good. Hopefully when I wake up tomorrow it’s still feeling good,” Maxwell said about his injury.
Without Maxwell’s strengths, it was hard to get much going offensively after he left the game, as the team shot only 43 percent in the second half compared to its 61 percent in the first half.
Another problem that proved costly was an inability to defend in the post. Inside the arc was rarely ever controlled by the Vikings, and a lot of that had to do with Seattle’s 6-foot-10, 294 pound center Marcus Goode. Goode was an absolute presence down low as he scored 18 points and added eight rebounds, the most for either team.
Maxwell felt it was good to face a player like that but hoped the team didn’t stress too much about struggling with him.
“We won’t see another player like that,” Maxwell said. “He was big and he also shot the three [pointer], so that made it tough in the interior and the exterior.”
It’s better to get losses out of the way when it isn’t as costly, like it is during league games, Parker said. The Vikings have that mindset and aren’t going to get down on itself, Parker said.
“We know it counts in the real games, so we just have to keep working hard in practice and that will translate to the real games,” Parker said.
Maxwell and Parker both highlighted their ability to pass effectively to open up uncontested shots as a positive takeaway moving forward from the loss.
The next game for the Vikings will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Skagit Valley Community College against the Multnomah University Lions.