The Blackburn College Men's Basketball Team used a career game from senior forward Jamaya Wyatt to defeat the Principia College Panthers, 83-69 on senior day Saturday afternoon in Carlinville. Wyatt notched career highs in both points and rebounds as he scored 28 points and pulled down 19 rebounds as Blackburn moved to 13-12 on the season and 10-8 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and advance to the conference tournament for the second consecutive season.
Blackburn seniors, Wyatt, Duncan King and Cleo Whisenton were playing in their final home game and it was Wyatt who literally willed the Beavers to win in the first half as Blackburn had some struggles falling behind by twelve points at 40-28 with 3:12 to play after Principia went on a 9-0 run. Blackburn scored the final six points of the half to go into the locker room down 42-26. Conference leading scorer Micah Paulson erupted for 24 first half points and finished with 42 for Principia, Wyatt kept the Beavers in the game with 13 points and nine first half rebounds. "This was a really big part of the game, being down twelve and getting a couple of stops before the half to cut it to six was really big for us," said Blackburn Head Coach Steve Kollar.
The Blackburn defense clamped down in the second half and certainly fueled the offense. The Beavers held the Panther's Trevaughn Goodman to just nine points, twelve below his average. The Beavers also dominated the boards and out-played Principia in a big way, pulling down 28 offensive rebounds to just one for Principia. Blackburn out-rebounded Principia 55-23 on the afternoon. Bryson Kirby drilled a three-pointer at the 16:25 mark to give Blackburn a 47-44 lead which was a lead they would never relinquish. The energetic student section then helped the energy level topped off by Wyatt's first career three-point field goal at the 5:12 mark put Blackburn up 73-53 and the Beavers cruised in from there. Just a couple of minutes before the end of the game, Fontbonne University defeated Spalding University putting the Beavers back into the conference tournament once the Dawes Gymnasium buzzer sounded.
The three Blackburn seniors will play again this Friday at Webster University against the number one seed Gorloks in a conference semi-final.
"I felt like I had to go out with a bang," said Wyatt. "I knew my brothers needed me and it didn't matter whether I scored 28 points or two points as long as we won," said Wyatt.
"Getting back to the conference tournament means the world to me," said senior Duncan King. "Our mission all year was to get back here, we will be ready!" added King.
"This means so much to be able to make the tournament, this is the best group of guys I've ever played with," added senior Cleo Whisenton.
"A month ago I took a screen shot of the standings and showed it to the players," said Kollar. "I had a feeling we would be there in the end because this team got better with every practice and we played our best two games of the season the last two," added Kollar.