FLINT, Michigan — Wednesday night’s tilt at Ballenger Field House didn’t have the high drama of the first meeting between rivals Lansing and Mott. The Bears fell on a rebound putback at the buzzer in the Capital City last month. It was Mott’s first loss to the Stars in three years.
This time around, Mott built a 24-point lead in the second half; from there the Bears held on for dear life, winning 92-83.
No. 10-ranked Lansing (9-3) has three losses on its record, but two of them are by forfeit. This was the first time the team had truly tasted defeat this season.
Mott was able to pull out the victory in spite of the absence of second-leading scorer Ruston Hayward (knee) and a pedestrian effort from Malik Albert, currently the leading scorer in the nation at this level. Lansing, smartly, keyed on Albert throughout the game, holding him to 21 points on 6-for-19 from the field.
Mott needed someone to step into the breach, and this time around it was freshman point guard Marcus Johnson. The Charlotte (N.C.) product had a huge first half and finished with 26 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists. He shot 9-for-18 from the field.
Lansing, as is the norm, played at a frenetic pace. The Stars have averaged a truly ridiculous 110 points per game in their last five outings. Mott was able to keep the Stars in check early on after an initial outburst from sophomore forward Devlin Bell, who connected on his first three 3-point attempts. He finished with a game-high 27 points and nine rebounds. (Editor’s note: he’s a beast.)
Even in the second half’s first few minutes, there was no sign of the run-and-gun, score-at-will Stars.
At the 12-minute mark of the second half, Mott still led by 18; three minutes later it was 12; then eight at the five-minute mark. It was Bell, point guard Tracy Edmond and Donyae Logan who did most of the damage. Edmond, for his part, never stopped going to the basket and was rewarded with 17 free throw attempts — all but four of his 16 points came from the charity stripe.
Lansing got within five with 46 seconds to go before Albert and Johnson put them away from the foul line.
It was a very shaky, if not outright pathetic defensive performance for Mott down the stretch. Mott could not keep Lansing from the basket and allowed far too many second chance points. No lead is safe with this Lansing squad.
No. 11-ranked Mott (7-1) had five players in double figures including the aforementioned pair. Sophomore Jamal Reynolds, inserted into the starting lineup in place of Hayward, scored 17 points with 10 rebounds. Sophomore Chester McFadden added 15 points and four rebounds. Sophomore forward Myles Busby had 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Five of his points came in less than 10 seconds to get Mott started on its 9-0 run to start the second half.
Mott returns to action at 3 p.m. Saturday on the road against Jackson.