Scots trip up Lions

HANCOCK – A mistake-filled first half proved to be too much for the Finlandia University men’s basketball team to overcome Sunday afternoon at Paavo Nurmi Gym.

The Lions committed 18 of their 23 turnovers in the opening half of an eventual 75-64 defeat to Alma College in their home opener.

“We made too many mistakes,” FU coach Terry Smith said afterward. “You give the ball away 18 times in a half, you’re not winning many games.”

Alma coach Sam Hargraves felt the closing five minutes of the opening was the key to his team’s first victory of the season.

“We put very good pressure on them (Lions) near the end of the half,” Hargraves said. “Our plan today … was to get a win in any possible way.”

“Finlandia is a scary offensive team and you never know what to expect from them.”

After falling behind by 18 points early in the second half, the Blue and White made a spirited comeback try.

A driving layup by Matt Strong – the Lions’ top scorer with 18 points – reduced the deficit to 64-58 with 3:40 left to play.

But Alma was clutch down the stretch from the free throw line to seal the game.

Five straight points by Strong, the former Houghton High product, gave the Lions an 11-11 tie early on. It would be their last deadlock of the game.

The downtown Scots then embarked on a 19-9 run that gave them a 35-25 lead late in the half, which ended up 40-25.

Foul trouble on Dominic Morrow didn’t help the locals, either.

“Dominic (Morrow) had some troubles in the first half with his footwork and got in some defensive trouble,” Smith noted. “We just didn’t play very well in general.”

Strong added two steals to go with his 18 points, drawing Smith’s praise.

“Matt Strong played a pretty decent game,” the FU coach said. “We just needed more.”

Morrow, who eventually fouled out, notched 16 points and five assists. Brandon Robinson netted nine more, while Andrew Johnston took down a game-best 11 rebounds.

Isiah Law led Alma with 14 markers, Scott Nikodemski tossing in 11 more.

Now 2-11 on the season, the Lions will take a break until a Dec. 14 game at Calvin College. The team has played 12 games in a 22-day stretch.