Student Crowd Boosts Albion Past Kalamazoo

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ALBION, Mich. – Albion College didn't disappoint its largest – and loudest – home crowd of the season Wednesday night. Boosted by the return of its student section, Albion hustled to loose balls to pull out a 72-62 victory over Kalamazoo College in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association men's basketball action.

The victory lifted Albion to a 3-2 record against its league rivals and it is tied with Adrian College, a 74-67 loser to Alma College, for third place in the standings.

"We responded well (to the 70-54 setback to Trine last Saturday)," Albion Coach Jody May said. "We talked a lot about taking care of the basketball, playing smart, and doing the little things it takes to be successful. Trine got to every single loose ball. We had guys diving on the floor tonight. We didn't get to every loose ball, but we were closer.

"Having the students back was a major plus," the fourth-year head coach added.

Albion broke a 52-52 tie with a 9-2 run in a span of 2:20. First-year guard Zach Hurth converted a steal into a layup, and Luke Walker scored a basket in the lane on Albion's next possession.

Joe Prepolec's layup trimmed the margin to 56-54, but Kolin Kazen scored the next five points on a 3-point basket and a fast break layup off a steal.

"We didn't get a lot of turnovers, but we were able to get out and run," May said.

Kazen's fourth 3-point basket boosted Albion to a 66-58 lead with 1:50 left, but it had trouble handling Kalamazoo's press down the stretch. Baskets by Prepolec and Mark Ghafari trimmed the margin to four with a minute and a half remaining, and Kalamazoo had the ball with less than a minute to play.

A turnover forced Kalamazoo to foul, however, and Walker, Kazen, and Lawrence Ridgell slammed the door by combining to go 6-for-6 from the line.

Kazen connected on 10-of-15 shots from the floor to finish with 28 points, his sixth 20-point performance of the season. Alex Harville scored all 10 of his points in the first half.

Prepolec and Ghafari finished with 18 and 15, respectively, for Kalamazoo.

Albion will be in action at home against at 3 p.m. Saturday when it meets Alma inside Kresge Gymnasium.