Royals barely fend off Bulldogs by two in rematch, get 46-44 win


Royal Stephen Laird reaches for the ball over a Bulldog defender. Photo: Olivia Prairie

The Phi Beta Chi Bulldogs and the Pi Gamma Delta Royals closed their regular season schedules on Friday, March 7, with a rematch. The Royals, who beat the Bulldogs earlier this season by one point with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in triple overtime, won by just two points in the last seconds of the game, 46-44.

Both teams started the game sloppily, as each team committed several turnovers in the opening minutes. The Bulldogs, with a size advantage over the Royals, looked to capitalize down low as sophomore Jordan Kelley scored several baskets in the paint, but the Royals jumped out to a 13-8 advantage with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

Although the Bulldogs fought hard to close the gap, the Royals expanded their lead to nine on multiple occasions. But Phi Beta wouldn’t back down, and the Bulldogs held the Royals’ lead to 27-18 at halftime.

Much of Pi Gamma’s first-half success was due to the speed and aggressiveness of sophomore Zech Heneveld. Heneveld, who scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half, once again proved why he’s a threat that needs to be contained. A versatile player, he scores off layups, free throws and from behind the arch.

The opening minutes of the second half started with each team trading baskets and fouls. Early in the half, Pi Gamma freshman Stephen Laird, who had been guarding Phi Beta’s Kelley in the post, picked up his 4th foul and was forced to withdraw to the bench, where he would remain until the last few minutes of the game.

Phi Beta took advantage of the opportunity and began to close the gap. The Bulldogs battled back to tie the game at 42-42 with just more than two minutes left in the game. Pi Gamma sophomore Ryan Hwang, who has kept the Royals afloat in several games, did his best to stop the Bulldogs from taking over and scored 8 of his 12 points at critical moments in the second half. Phi Beta sophomore Billy Kauffman gave the Bulldogs a 44-42 lead with 1:05 remaining, and shortly afterward each team hit a free throw for a score of 44-43. Kelley earned what would have been a two-point lead for the Bulldogs with another free throw, but that shot was discounted because of a Bulldog lane violation.

Pi Gamma came down the court desperate for a basket or foul. But Laird was able to find his way to the basket off a Hwang assist and gave the Royals a one-point margin with six seconds remaining. The Royals then made a free throw, putting them up by two. Phi Beta is now 6-6, and the Royals are 7-5 after the 46-44 victory.