BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Quantel Denson missed much of the second half after collecting his fourth personal foul, but returned in time to help the Mineral Area men’s basketball team conquer a difficult road venue Monday night.
The sophomore transfer delivered two key baskets in the closing moments, including a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds to play, and the Cardinals rallied past the previously unbeaten Blue Storm 63-62.
Jay Raulston scored a game-high 18 points and Shaquille Boga added 14 to pace the Cardinals (5-1). MAC scored on four straight offensive trips to begin the second half, and established its largest lead at 38-32.
Dylan Chatman connected four times from long range for 12 points, and Jaquail Townser added 10 for SW Illinois (4-1), which assumed a 62-59 lead after Townser forced in a contested floater with 29 seconds left.
Denson answered with a driving layup, and the Cardinals coaxed a 5-second violation on the ensuing inbounds play. Denson then knocked down the winner on a 15-footer near the elbow.
Mineral Area overcame 18 turnovers and recovered from a 15-4 Blue Storm run midway through the second half, as back-to-back triples from Chatman pushed the host club ahead.
Leon Watkins drained a key 3-pointers after the Cardinals trailed by six with less than two minutes remaining, and made the subsequent steal that sprung Boga for a transition layup.
Raulston opened the game with an individual 6-0 run for MAC, including an offensive putback, and consecutive jumpers by D’Angelo Tucker kept the Cardinals within 30-29 at halftime.
Watkins and Tucker each scored 10 points for Mineral Area, which will play its home opener Friday night against Eastern Oklahoma.