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Cougars win eighth straight with 74-69 win over MCC men

The Western Nebraska Community College men overcame a 17-point first-half deficit Friday and came back to top McCook Community College 74-69 at the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center. The win was the eighth straight for the Cougars.

Western Nebraska had an eight-point lead over the first three minutes of the game. MCC took charge responded with a 17-16 lead eight minutes into the game and outscored the Cougars 22-9 over the final 12 minutes of the first half to take a 39-25 lead at intermission.

“I thought we played our best half of basketball in the first half,” said Brandl.

MCC muscled up on the boards over the first 20 minutes to hold a 25-13 rebound edge at the half and held Western Nebraska to 29.4 percent shooting. MCC made shots at a 54.8 percent in the first half.

Western Nebraska whittled into the 14-point intermission lead and cut it to 55-46 with 11:10 remaining in the game. With four minutes left the MCC lead had diminished to 68-65 and the Cougars took the lead for good 71-69 at the 2:20 mark of the game.

“And the second half still had some good things happening, but we are just finding ways to give games away,” said Brandl.

The coach pointed to a five-for-15 performance from the free-throw line.

“If we make free throws in that second half, the game’s over,” said Brandl.

MCC also had 10 live-ball turnovers and 14 for the game.

“The number of fast breaks that they were able to get on us was really costly,” said Brandl. We would have misses on the opposite end and they would get a defensive rebound and we’re hanging around the basketball and they throw it ahead and it’s a layup.”

Western Nebraska shot 43.8 percent for the game, shooting 60 percent in the second half including five of eight 3-pointers.

MCC shot 47.5 percent from the field for the game, made six of 16 3-pointers (37.5 percent).

“In the half-court, five-on-five, I thought we were really tough,” said Brandl.

Sophomores Zeki Cavli (Bodrum, Turkey) and Martel Evans (Omaha Creighton Prep) both scored 15 points and Thabo Manyere (sophomore, Auckland, New Zealand) scored a career-best 12 points to go along with seven rebounds.

 Ty Foster (sophomore, Bronx, N.Y.) scored nine points, freshman Louie Tucker (Bristol, England) scored eight and sophomore Brandon Kabuya Mpoyi (Paris, France) scored eight points and tied for team-best rebounds with nine. Freshman Bryan Akanmu (Paris, France) also had nine boards.

MCC won the rebound battle 44-24.

“We rebounded the heck out of it, didn’t get a few key ones late but for the most part did a good job there,” said Brandl.

Western Nebraska goes to 8-1 in the Region IX South standings and 19-8 overall.

“There are some positives to take away,” said Brandl. “We know we can play with anybody in our region. That was a good team and there’s a reason they’re at the top of our region and have won eight games in a row.”

MCC falls to 3-6 in the region and 9-17 overall.

“We just need to eliminate mistakes and keep on playing the right way offensively,” said Brandl.

The Indians travel to Lincoln Monday for a game against Southeast, then take next weekend off before traveling to Ottumwa, Iowa Feb. 26 for a game at Indian Hills Community College.

MCC closes out the Region IX south schedule at home March 1-2 with games against Trinidad State (March 1 at 7:30 p.m.) and Otero Junior College March 2 at 4 p.m. MCC sophomores will be honored prior to the Trinidad State game.

Up-to-date information about MCC basketball including schedules, statistics, rosters and photos can be found on the MCC Athletics website,

Men's Region IX South Standings
                             W-L    PCT   Overall
Trinidad State     8-1    .889     19-6

Western Neb.     8-1    .889     19-8
Northeastern      4-4    .500     11-12
McCook               4-6    .400       9-17
North Platte        3-5    .375     12-12
Otero JC              2-6    .250       9-16
Lamar CC            1-7    .125       8-18


Northeastern JC at North Platte, 7 p.m.

Otero at Lamar, 8 p.m.