NAPERVILLE, Illinois -- The Heidelberg University men's basketball team dropped its season opener, 68-57, at North Central College on Saturday. After taking a lead to start the second half, the Student Princes struggled to overcome a 9-0 Cardinal run.
Heidelberg dropped to 0-1, having lost the opener for the second straight year. North Central avenged last year's loss in Tiffin and improved to 1-0.
Midway through the first half, the hosts held a 21-14 lead. Tayte Lentz hit a 3-pointer off a feed from Davey Hipp, cutting the NC lead. With the score at 26-22 with 4:10 to play in the period, both teams went cold. Between the missed field goals and turnovers, neither team was able to score until Josh Dixon hit a layup with 45 seconds left.
Down 26-24 at the half, Dylan Woods drilled a 3-pointer to give Heidelberg a one-point lead 12 seconds into the second half.
Later, Phariz Watkins split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 28. From there, though, the Cardinals would rattle off the next nine points -- taking a 37-28 lead.
North Central retained a sizeable cushion throughout most of the second half. A 3-pointer by Hanley with 1:06 to play cut the deficit down to seven at 63-56. The Cardinals made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Matt Cappelletti led NC with 19 points and 11 boards.
Both teams struggled to shoot from long range. Heidelberg was 8-for-34 (23.5%) while North Central was 3-for-23 (13%).
Heidelberg is back in action on Tuesday -- at Albion for a 7 p.m. tip.