DENVER — The Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team was shutout in its two-game road trip to Colorado, losing to the Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Wildcats 97-95.
Four Pirates scored in double figures with Ryan Wheeler and Brandon Alexander each pouring in 19 points. Jake Holmes balanced the perimeter firepower with some interior scoring, providing 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting with seven assists. Joel Martinez added 13 points and three assists off the bench.
The Wildcats had too much firepower with all five starters scoring in double figures led by a monster performance from guard Andrew Romero III, who had 34 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
Romero, the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer, was dynamic off the bounce, shooting 10-for-14 from the field with only two 3-point attempts; getting to the free-throw line 17 times and converting 13.
It was a game of runs with seven ties and seven lead changes. The Pirates started quickly with a strong first-half performance from Holmes, who had nine points and four rebounds while hitting all three of his field goal attempts. Southwestern also got a big boost off the bench from Joel Martinez, who scored 10 of his 13 before the break, hitting 4-for-5 from the field.
The Pirates' defense held the Wildcats to 42.4 percent shooting and just 3-for-10 from deep, building a 14-point lead eight minutes into the game. Southwestern struggled with fouls, however, giving JWU 15 first-half free-throw attempts (converting 13) to allow JWU to pull within two at the half with the Pirates taking a 45-43 lead.
Wheeler and Alexander helped carry the Pirates in the second half with Wheeler scoring 17 of his 19 points, hitting all five of his shot attempts, including two 3-pointers, and shooting 5-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Southwestern simply had no answer for Romero III, who erupted in the second half with 26 points on 8-for-9 shooting, hitting 9-for-12 from the free-throw line with four assists and three steals.
With the loss, the Pirates drop to 10-10 on the season and 7-4 in conference play. Southwestern will hit the road again for a road game against Schreiner University on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m.