MEMPHIS, TENN – York College junior Mike Mathews (Newark, Del./Salesianum) registered a career-high 18 points but it wouldn't be enough as the Spartans dropped a 72-64 decision to Kalamazoo College on Friday night in the opening round of the Rhodes College Christmas Invitational in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Spartans had their modest two game win streak snapped as they fall to 3-6 while the Hornets improve to 3-7 overall.
Kalamazoo got off to a quick start as they had a 20-10 lead just over nine minutes into the game. The Green and White reversed their fortunes with a 20-8 run as they took a 30-28 lead with 2:35 left in the first half. The Hornets' Eric Fishman canned his second first half three to give Kalamazoo a 34-32 lead just before the break. York scored the final three points of the stanza, giving the Spartans a 35-34 halftime lead.
The second half was back and forth over the opening ten minutes as neither team could assert any significant momentum. That changed when the Hornets went on a quick 8-0 spurt powered by three pointers from Mark Ghafari and Mike Oravetz and a bucket by Carter Goetz. The run gave the Hornets a seven-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game.
York cut the lead to three on a pair of Mathews' free throws at the 5:41 mark but unfortunately for the Spartans, that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way. York misfired on its next four offensive possessions as the Hornets pushed the lead to 66-58.
Kalamazoo converted six of eight from the free throw line in the final minute to salt away the victory.
Fishman and Ghafari powered the Hornets as they scored 27 and 24 points respectively. Fishman was on fire all night long as he was 9-for-15 from the floor including 3-for-6 from three. Fishman also cashed in 6-of-7 from the stripe in addition to seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot in 37 minutes of play. Ghafari was 7-for-14 from the floor including 4-of-10 from distance. He also went 6-for-7 from the charity stripe.
Mathews had his best night as a Spartan as he went 7-for-9 from the floor including one three. Mathews was 3-for-3 from the stripe while he also had three rebounds. He was the only Spartan in double figures. Senior Mitch Kemp (York, Pa./York Suburban) pulled in a career-high 10 rebounds while he also contributed six points, four assists and a steal. Chad Styer (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown) and Matt McNeely (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) each added eight points to the Spartan offense.
Kalamazoo turned the Spartans over 17 times and they turned those York miscues into 27 points.
Both teams went 24-for-52 (46.2%) from the floor. The Hornets went 8-for-22 from three while York was 6-for-18). Kalamazoo held an edge in made free throws as they converted 16-of-20 while York was 10-for-15. Kalamazoo outrebounded York 31-28 in the game.
The Spartans will play in Saturday's tournament consolation game. The Green and White will play the loser of Friday's second semifinal between host Rhodes and Knox College. Tip time Saturday is set for 1:00 pm central time.