The Beloit College men’s basketball team won the battle of conference unbeaten with a 62-53 win over Ripon College on the road bolstered by Mason Jones’ hot hand. With the win the Buccaneers improve to 5-3 on the season and 3-0 in Midwest Conference play. The Red Hawks fall to 4-2 and 2-1 in the MWC.
Jones tallied a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the second half, on 5-8 from the field, 4-5 from three-point range and 4-6 from the charity stripe.
The game was close through the first half as the Bucs held a two-point lead at the intermission. Beloit widened the margin to as much as 12 before Ripon started to make a comeback. By the three-minute mark, the Red Hawks has whittled the lead away and tied the game 51-51.
Jones caught fire in the second half with some big shots for the Buccaneers down the stretch. After an Andrew Walters rebound on the defensive end, Darin Empereur found Jones near the top of the key with enough daylight to get the shot off. Jones rattled it home for the 54-51 Buccaneer lead with 2:14 left in the half.
On the defensive end, Jones secured an errant three-pointer by the Red Hawks. Running the offense allowing the time to tick away on the play clock, the Bucs found Jones in the corner. A shot fake and baseline drive had the Red Hawk defender off balance and Jones was fouled on the shot. The first free throw was in and out but the second dropped in to give Beloit a 55-51 lead with 1:25 remaining.
Ripon inbounded and drove the length of the floor for a quick layup that took just 10 seconds off the clock. With the score 55-53 Ripon’s head coach called the immediate timeout.
Beloit went back to their hot hand in Jones from long range. A rare miss for Jones still led to points as the ball fell perfectly into Empereur’s hands who had the easy putback to make it 57-53 with just 42 seconds left.
The Red Hawks again tried to work quickly but the Buc defense tied up the Ripon guard cutting to the basket and with the possession arrow favoring Beloit, the Bucs went back on offense with just 30 seconds to go. Walters was fouled quickly and dropped in both shots from the charity stripe to make it 59-53.
Jones came up big on the defensive end with another rebound. A quick foul and one of two from the free throw line made it a three possession game as Beloit took a 60-53 advantage with just 22 ticks left.
Shoup gathered in Ripon’s final shot attempt, was fouled and sealed the game with two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. A player control foul on the offensive end for Ripon gave the ball back to the Bucs and Empereur dribbled out the clock for the 62-53 victory.
Beloit’s defense held Ripon to more than 20 points below their season average while limiting the number two scorer in the league, Cal Schultz, to 15 points, nine under his game average.
Three Bucs posted double digit points in addition to Jones’ 18. Dan Babb dropped in 15 on 6-10 from the field and 3-6 from long range. Walters added 12 points and hauled in a game-high nine rebounds. Shoup drew the focus of the Ripon defense but still dropped in 11 points adding four assists in the contest.
Beloit returns to Flood Arena to take on Lawrence University Saturday, December 8. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.