Game Statistics: http://bit.ly/1dTqg8R
(WALNUT RIDGE, Ark.) Xavielle Brown scored a career-high 31 points and Melvin Rowe made his full-time return to the Park University frontcourt in style, collecting an 18-point, 13-rebound double-double in the Pirates' 96-84 win at Williams Baptist College Thursday (Dec. 5) in the American Midwest Conference men's basketball opener for both schools.
Williams Baptist (5-3, 0-1 AMC) came in as one of the NAIA's top scoring offenses, averaging nearly 102 points per game, but it was Park (3-5, 1-0), with four double-figure scorers, that shot 50-percent (36-for-72), reaching its second-best scoring total of the season through eight games.
James McClain led Williams Baptist with 22 points, and Marcus Johnson added four makes from above the 3-point arc on the way to 24 points. Jarvis Griffin scored 10 for the Pirates and added eight boards, while Brown also contributed on the glass, pulling in nine rebounds.
"I thought we did a nice job stopping them from making an early run and we were really able to execute and rebound in the first half," said Park coach Jason Kline. "They're talented and can score, and they did that in the second half, but we really helped ourselves in the first and did enough to hold on to it in the second. We hadn't been playing our best basketball, so I'm happy we were able to start conference play like this."
Park led 20-10 at the 15:12 mark in the first half when Griffin hit from inside the paint, and four minutes later, with 11:09 to play in the first, Torr Woodhouse stretched the lead to 19, 33-14. Johnson kept the lead at 19 a minute later, answering E.J. Rucker's three for the Eagles, and Park led by as many as 23, twice, on baskets by Brown and John Kotsanos.
The Pirates took a 57-36 lead to intermission, and in the second half, Park's lead swelled to 29, 69-40, on a basket by Griffin with 15:58 to play. Williams went on a 15-0 run that cut it to 14 points, getting four makes at the foul line and a three from Kevin Charles with 11:51 to play.
Tevin Howard had Williams within 11, scoring with 4:26 left to make it 84-73, but Park was able to make all eight of its free throws in the final 3:15, securing an AMC opening win for the fourth time in the last five seasons, its first since a conference-opening win at Williams Baptist in 2011-12.
Park is scheduled to play Friday night (Dec. 6) in Arkansas, at Lyon College in Batesville, but winter weather could force a change in the schedule. Any schedule changes will be announce at www.parkathletics.com, also the home of the Pirate Sports Network, which will feature live audio for Friday night's game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m.