Slater’s jump shot cut the lead to 34-18, but Williams scored immediately for MacArthur. Eli Boyle knocked down two free throws for McAlester, but Allen finished the half with a layup that made it 38-20 Highlanders.
The Buffs didn’t collapse in the second half despite often looking exhausted by MacArthur’s high-speed attack. MacArthur scored just 4 more points than McAlester in the third quarter, and both teams scored 22 in the fourth.
“I was impressed with McAlester, down 27 points, still playing hard,” Harrington said.
“Every possession, I thought they played hard. When we’ve gotten teams down like that this year, we’ve been able to bury them.”
Despite playing hard, the Buffs couldn’t knock down shots with any regularity. And as they began to tire physically, they became more prone to mental errors, leading to turnovers.
“I thought the effort was great,” Zike said.
“I don’t fault their effort one bit. We just got behind early, and we’re trying to chase them. They’re just the type of team you don’t want to chase around.”
Dawkins led the Buffs with 23 points. Erving scored 10 despite getting kneed in the leg in the second half.
Meisel and Cook both scored 11 for MacArthur. Williams scored 10.
“We had a little more team-speed than them, and (it’s) seniors against underclassmen, too,” Harrington said.
Meisel’s 3-pointer gave MacArthur a 3-0 lead on the opening possession of the game, and MacArthur held onto that lead for the rest of the game. Meisel’s steal turned into a layup by Cook, then Nolan scored to make it 7-0 Highlanders.
Erving got McAlester on the board with a 3-pointer, but Nolan’s pass to Williams led to another MacArthur basket. Boyle’s layup made it a 5-point game, but Nolan later answered with a layup.