LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A double-digit halftime lead didn't hold up for Viterbo (Wis.) on Saturday as the Mount Mercy men's basketball team dominated the second period to snap a three-game road losing streak with a 64-59 win over the V-Hawks in a Midwest Collegiate Conference regular season finale at R.W. Beggs Gymnasium.
Viterbo scored the final 11 points of the first half to turn a 31-30 deficit into a 41-31 advantage. Mount Mercy still trailed early in the second period but began its run near the midway point of the half and took a 54-53 lead on a conventional 3-point play by Chad Underwood with 5:07 left.
The V-Hawks led by a point, 58-57, at the two-minute mark before Alex Coleman's trey put Mount Mercy ahead for good on its next possession. A steal by Sid Beck led to an Underwood basket and a 62-58 Mustang lead with 1:07 to go. After a free throw by Viterbo's Izac Sheforgen brought the V-Hawks within three, Markus Cocroft knocked down a pair of foul shots for the final margin.
Underwood finished with a game-high 21 points to go with nine rebounds. Coleman's double-double included 11 points and 10 boards. Seven of those 10 rebounds came at the offensive end. Troy Peter chipped in nine points, Beck four assists and three steals for the Mustangs.
Matt Turba and Cole Lewis scored 14 points apiece for the V-Hawks (11-19, 6-12 MCC). Sheforgen ended up with 13 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Jordan Laufenberg added 11 points, and Turba also collected three assists and five steals.
Mount Mercy (18-11, 9-9 MCC) is seeded sixth in the 2012 MCC Men's Basketball Tournament and travels to third-seeded Ashford in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at Kehl Arena in Clinton. In other quarterfinal action on Wednesday, eighth-seeded Iowa Wesleyan is at top-seeded St. Ambrose, seventh-seeded Grand View goes to second-seeded William Penn and fifth-seeded Waldorf plays at fourth-seeded Clarke.
The semifinals, hosted by the highest remaining seeds, are Friday at 7:00 p.m. A Mustang victory on Wednesday has them going to William Penn or hosting Grand View on Friday at 7:00. The other semifinal pits the St. Ambrose/Iowa Wesleyan winner against the winner of Clarke/Waldorf. The MCC final is hosted by the higher seed on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
The MCC has two automatic bids to the national tournament this year. The regular season and tournament champions get those. If it's the same team, the runner-up in the regular season receives the second bid. The 21st Annual NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship is March 7-13 at the Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in Branson, Mo.