MAHOMET — Mahomet-Seymour had its offense and defense when it needed them the most — in the fourth quarter — and defeated Eureka 54-44 in a Corn Belt Conference contest Friday night.
The Bulldogs (14-10, 9-4 Corn Belt), who trailed by three points entering the fourth quarter, scored 19 points and held the Hornets (14-10, 8-5) to six in the final period. M-S pulled away with five consecutive free throws in the last 90 seconds.
The Bulldogs struggled from the field early but warmed up in the second half.
M-S coach Chad Benedict credited Eureka’s style of play with slowing the game down and forcing his team to adjust.
“Tim Meiss isn’t a Hall of Fame coach for nothing. Eureka is so well coached, and their players do a great job of keeping you from doing what you want to do,” Benedict said. “But we made some defensive adjustments in the second half and came out with more intensity than we had in the first half, and that got us rolling.”
Christian Romine had seven first-quarter points and Conner Diedrich six as the Bulldogs jumped to a 15-10 lead. But Eureka’s disciplined offense and sagging defense kept it close, and the Hornets took their biggest lead of the game, 38-35, when Cooper Scherer scored with a minute left in the third quarter.
But Romine, who finished with 15 points, hit a soft jumper to open the final period and Josh Brooks followed with a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead to stay, 39-38, with 5:25 left.
M-S earned the victory from the free throw line with less than two minutes to go. Two from Riley Cockerill, two from Sam Hohlfelder and the final one from Romine gave the Bulldogs what they needed.
Hohlfelder hit two key field goals in the third quarter to put M-S ahead after Eureka claimed the lead. The senior guard said he wanted the ball with the game on the line.
“I have a lot of confidence in my shot, and all I thought about was the win,” Hohlfelder said. “We’re fighting for second place in the conference, and I wanted to do everything I could to help the team get it done.”
Diedrich finished with 12 points, Hohlfelder 10 and Brooks nine to help a balanced Bulldogs attack.
M-S travels to Pontiac on Tuesday night. A win would clinch the league’s runner-up spot.
Scherer had a game-high 16 points for the Hornets.