Morris playmakers help get road win over DeKalb
DeKALB – Whenever Morris needed a play to stay in control of Friday’s conference game against DeKalb, one of the Redskins made it.
When the Redskins needed a basket inside early in the game, David Kneller gained strong position near the basket and scored. When they needed a jumper or a drive keep DeKalb at bay, Brock Kukman or Austin Patterson would score. When they needed to dig themselves out of a slump early in the second half, Jake Walker hit a pair of 3-pointers.
And when they needed a pair of free throws with six seconds to go, Walker hit them to give Morris a 50-47 win over the Barbs.
“That’s a good road win for us,” coach Joe Blumberg said. “We’ve been perimeter-oriented … I thought Kukman, [Tanner] Sampson and Kneller did a good job inside, just rebounding and getting some big buckets for us.”
DeKalb took an 8-2 lead, but Morris (15-5, 6-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) came back with a 14-3 run behind baskets from five different Redskins.
Patterson scored seven of his nine points in the first half, Kneller had six, but DeKalb took a 25-24 lead into the half. But the tide turned early in the third, when Walker hit two 3s and Kukman scored four points to give Morris a 34-30 lead midway through the half. They wouldn’t trail thereafter.
Kukman scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, and the Redskins led by six with two minutes left. The Barbs (11-14, 3-4) came back and had a chance to take the lead or tie, but they couldn’t convert two 3-pointers before time expired while Morris frantically tried to foul.
“We were sloppy on offense, but I think that’s their quickness and physicality, they took us out of a lot of our sets,” Blumberg said. “The last 30 seconds, we tried to foul and couldn’t, that’s how quick they are.”
The Redskins have been forced to split their attention all week, with a game against Sycamore on Saturday. After a short celebration, they’ll turn their attention to their game against the Spartans, who are tied with them atop the conference.
“It’s been difficult, we try very hard not to talk about Sycamore, but with no practice time we’ve had to do it a couple of breakdown drills,” Blumberg said. “Tomorrow night’s a big game and we’re at home, so we’ll get rested up and refocused, celebrate maybe on the ride home, then when we get home focus on tomorrow.”