GARY | A half of a second was all that stood between West Side and a monumental upset over Times No. 2 Munster on Thursday.
With 5.6 seconds remaining, West Side’s Ja’Re Glover drove into the paint and put up a short runner. Christian Jacobs snagged the rebound and connected on a put-back, but it was too late and the Mustangs escaped with a 57-56 nail-biter over the Cougars.
The Mustangs have won 11 straight games.
“If you look back through the history of Munster and West Side games, it seems like most of them end like this,” Munster coach Mike Hackett said. “One or two possessions at the end of the game and somebody wins or somebody loses. We were fortunate to hang on.”
West Side wouldn’t have been in a position to win had it not been for the extraordinary efforts of Marlon Northern, who dominated the paint for 16 points in the second half.
“My team needed me and my coach (Murray Richards) told me I needed to put some more effort in,” Northern said. “I didn’t want to lose. I never want to lose. We’re getting better and better, and I’m having some good games.”
Munster’s Nikola Mandic had a strong second half with 10 points and ended with 14 overall. In the first half, Mandic was pulled out of the game due to a lack of focus, and adjustments were made at halftime.
“Sometimes (Mandic) is not as focused as he needs to be,” Hackett said. “When he’s focused, he gives us a good post presence inside that we need. When he’s not focused, we’ve got to find someone else to give that to us. He played much better in the second half.”
Munster (15-3) went on an 11-2 run during the second quarter, going up 30-19 at one point, due largely to a 5-for-8 effort from 3-point range in the first half.
West Side (7-8) was able to keep itself within striking distance as Jacobs was able to find some easy buckets inside. He went 5-of-6 from the field for 10 points in the first half.
Richards believes his team has begun to turn the corner late in the season.
“I’m not mad at anybody,” he said. “They played hard, and I expect them to do that. Sometimes a loss is a good loss. We just kept fighting. That’s all I asked them to do. We’re going to be all right.”