Monday, February 16, 2015

Former Sumner Academy basketball great Reese Holliday leads UMKC to victory

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Valentine’s Day proved to be a Holliday for the UMKC men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon, as senior forward Reese Holliday scored a season-high 19 points in a 61-50 road win at Chicago State, making it six wins in the last eight games.

The victory completed a season-sweep for the ‘Roos over CSU, and it also helped them surpass their win total from a year ago, the most since 2011 at UMKC.

“Our defense was pretty good today, we had a couple lapses but I was really pleased,” Head Coach Kareem Richardson said. “I thought, especially Thad (Smith) started us off well on defense, getting four blocks. Frank (Williams) did a good job of talking defensively as well.”

The ‘Roos (11-15, 6-3 WAC) came out of the gates hot in the opening half thanks to some tough defense, as well as some hot shooting from Holliday. He tallied 10 points in the first 12 minutes of the period to help UMKC lead by as many as 14 points with 7:52 on the clock.

The Cougars (6-20, 2-7 WAC) really bore down after that though, getting to the line and turning up the pressure on the ‘Roos. They went on an 8-0 run to get it back down to six, then answered again at the end of the half to close it down to as little as two. A pair of free throws by UMKC with 2.5 seconds left sent it into the break with a 32-28 score though.

Chicago State did a good job on Martez Harrison in the period despite its deficit, holding him to his first scoreless half of the season albeit foul trouble limited his minutes. Holliday finished with 12 though, as UMKC shot 52 percent and out-rebounded the Cougars 15-12. CSU shot 38 percent. Neither team was bothered too much by turnovers though, as UMKC had six and CSU had four.

The second stanza was tight in the early going, with both teams trying to find some offensive rhythm, and turning it over often. After a Harrison free throw made it a four-point ‘Roo lead with 14:07 left, he used the momentum to drill a three on the next possession and make it 39-32.

The Cougars got it back down to four with 11:38 on the clock, but a 9-2 UMKC rally put the lead back to 11 with 9:02 left. The closest CSU could get the rest of the way was six with 5:20 on the clock, but UMKC answered each time to get it back to double figures.

Holliday was the only player in double figures with 19, while Harrison and Frank Williams each tallied nine points. Harrison’s 43-game double-figure scoring streak came to an end in the victory, but he led the team with three assists and two steals, while not turning it over. Thaddeus Smith had four blocks in the game as well.

UMKC will continue the road swing on Wednesday night at Seattle for a 9:00 p.m. CT tipoff from Key Arena.