FLINT, Michigan — The stars seemed to be aligned for the biggest upset of the MCCAA season on Wednesday night in Flint as Mott hosted no. 1-ranked Schoolcraft College. It didn’t happen, as the Ocelets rode hot shooting from the foul line to win their 13th straight, 79-71.
“That was probably our best team performance of the year, in spite of the loss,” said Mott head coach Steve Schmidt. “They answered the bell tonight against a really good team, one of the best in the country. I’m proud of that effort. If we had played that hard all year, we’d be right there in this thing.”
Instead, the Bears are now scratching and clawing just to get a home playoff game. A win over Delta on Saturday would go a long way toward securing the fourth seed and a home game in the first round.
The unranked Bears led the top-ranked Ocelots by six at the half and had the larger share of the game’s momentum. Everything pointed to an upset. That all changed just one minute into the half.
Mott’s 6-8 sophomore forward Darryl LeVert, who narrowly made it through the first half with only two fouls, slapped a dead ball out of the hands of a Schoolcraft player and was whistled for a technical foul, his third. The game turned precisely at that moment. Two minutes later, after a 10-3 Schoolfcraft run, the Bears’ lead had disappeared.
The Bears managed to dictate the flow of the game in the first half, milking clock on the majority of their possessions. In the second, Schoolcraft took advantage of Mott’s sloppy play on offense. The Bears turned the ball over 10 times in the half and 19 in the game.
Mott (15-9) briefly held the lead midway through the second half after a 3-pointer by freshman Tommie Johnson. The Bears would not lead again.
The matchup featured three ties, 14 lead changes and an astounding performance by the Ocelots from the foul line — 18-for-18.
Schoolcraft (24-3) guard Ronald Booth led all scorers with 23 points.
Mott had five players in double figures including Rod Milton with 14 points and five rebounds. Malik Young added 12 points and six assists. Former Lapeer West High School standout Matt Place scored 10 points including his first 3-pointer of his college career.
Mott once again played without its best player, freshman forward Daryl Bigham. The team’s leading scorer also missed last Wednesday’s game with an illness. His playing status for Saturday is yet to be determined.
Listen to Mott’s game versus Delta Saturday on MRSN.us starting at 8 p.m.