SHREVEPORT—Junior Maxx Nakwaasah fired off a career-best 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, but the Centenary men's basketball team wasn't able to overcome a tough night at the free throw line, falling 71-67 to UMKC on Thursday evening in Summit League action.
The Gents (0-18, 0-7 Summit) produced its best game of the season, a four-point loss to the Kangaroos (10-7, 3-3 Summit), though wasn't able to execute from the free throw line in the final half, making just 7-of-19.
Nakwaasah tallied his fourth career double-double and second of the season with a 7-of-17 effort from the field and seven free throws made on the night.
Centenary never held a lead in the first half, but showcased a diligent effort in forcing UMKC into several missed lay ups.
The Kangaroos went up by eight, the most of the opening half, three times, after the first came at the 15-minute mark (10-2).
Nakwaasah, alone, produced five quick points and sophomore Baba Diallo added four in a 9-2 run by the Gents midway through the half to make it a one-point game (16-15). The inside game by the Kangaroos began to show, forcing Centenary into foul trouble with under five minutes to play as UMKC hit four straight free throws.
A late offensive surge by Centenary including free throws from Nakwaasah and freshman Aaron Harwell and a lay up by sophomore Jeron Trotman narrowed the score to three (31-28) with 1:21 left to play.
A final 5-2 tilt to end the first half gave UMKC a 36-30 lead into the second half.
UMKC was able to come out strong in the final half, going up by 15 (51-36) with 15:12 left, keeping Centenary separated by double-digits for most of the half.
However, a lay up by freshman Jonathan Blount sparked an offensive threat by the Gents as Nakwaasah hit a three and two free throws to narrow it within eight (64-56) with 5:22 remaining.
Centenary played the final three minutes with a deficit of single digits, though forced to four, UMKC finished off a much better night from the line. A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Harwell wrapped up the game as Centenary fell by just four.
The Gents out shot UMKC, connecting on 21-of-48 from the field for 44 percent on the evening, but was only 20-of-34 from the charity stripe for 59 percent.
Behind Nakwaasah in scoring was Trotman and Harwell with eight apiece, followed by Blount and sophomore Leo Davis with seven. Harwell led the Gents with five assists.
UMKC fired off 22-of-56 from the floor for 39 percent, but made 21-of-29 from the free throw line for 72 percent. The Kangaroos' leading scorer Jay Couisnard had 17 points, while Bakari Lewis added 13.
The Kangaroos out rebounded Centenary, 40 to 32. Behind Nakwaasah's 12 boards was Blount with five. UMKC was led by a game-best 13 rebounds from Spencer Johnson.
"We shot much better in the first half, but couldn't seem to get our shots to fall in the final half. I am pleased with the overall effort and we will continue to push ourselves with hard work," said head coach Adam Walsh.
"Playing undersized, we had to press a lot and build up the tempo, which I feel like we did well tonight. I had to use my quickness to overcome their size advantage," said Nakwaasah.
Centenary will return to action on Saturday when it hosts Southern Utah at 4:30 pm in the Gold Dome.
(Courtesy: Centenary Athletics Department)