FLINT, Michigan — There was a very conspicuous absence on the floor at Steve Schmidt Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon in Flint. One of the top JUCO guards in the nation, Mott sophomore Diandre Wilson, was in uniform but he never stepped on the floor.
Even so, the shorthanded Bears pulled off a double overtime victory over Henry Ford, 93-90. The victory is Mott’s ninth in a row.
Wilson injured his hamstring in the second half of Mott’s win over Oakland on Wednesday night. He probably could have played in a pinch, but Mott head coach Steve Schmidt said he did not want to risk tweaking it again.
Ironically, it was a player little known to Mott fans who ultimately won the game for the Bears. Louis Taborn, a 6-4 reserve forward, had seen a precious little playing time this season through 14 games. In fact, he didn’t log a minute of action against Oakland Wednesday night. That is about to change drastically.
Every time the Bears needed a big play, he delivered against the Hawks. A clutch free throw? Check. A huge 3-pointer? Check. Take a charge? Sure. Offensive rebound? He got that, too.
Taborn is a hard-working hustler in the mold of former Bear Matt Place. He finished the game with six points, 12 rebounds (six on the offensive end) and a flair for the dramatic.
With Mott down two and just 37 seconds left, Taborn’s defender backed off leaving a wide open 3-pointer, which he buried to give the Bears the lead.
With Mott nursing a three-point lead, Taborn drew a charge with 26 seconds left in the first overtime.
With the Bears up 91-90, Henry Ford’s athletic freshman guard, JaShean Green, had a free throw to tie the game with eight seconds left in the second overtime. He missed and, you guessed it, Taborn came down with the rebound. He tossed it to Marcus Cole who was fouled. Cole made both free throws. A desperation 3-point attempt by the Hawks’ John Merrieweather was long. Taborn got that one, too.
Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Taborn’s play off the bench was the performance of Mott sophomore Robert McCalley. The 6-4 forward from Chicago had his best game as a Bear, scoring 32 points on nine shot attempts with nine rebounds. That’s not a misprint. McCalley was 18-for-20 from the foul line.
Henry Ford (3-8) was led by Merrieweather’s 21 points. Green added 18 points including a couple impressive dunks.
Freshman guards Marcus Cole and Austin Walker scored 17 and 16 points, respectively for Mott (13-2). Freshman sharpshooter Shawn Pardee added 14 points including a clutch three-pointer with a minute left in double overtime.
Mott will return to action on Saturday at Schoolcraft. The Ocelots (10-3) may be the best team the Bears face this season. Listen live on MRSN.us.