DALLAS — First to 50 was starting to sound like a reasonable road to victory.
Whistle after whistle, foul after foul, neither King's nor Misericordia could get their offenses shifted into gear on a frigid night in Dallas.
After 25 minutes of what both sides called an ugly and sloppy game, the Cougars managed to find their groove first, driving past the Monarchs for a 63-54 win on Wednesday at the Anderson Center.
I said at halftime, it was going to be the team that makes more (impromptu) plays, because (set) plays aren't gonna work, Cougars coach Trevor Woodruff said. It was too congested. There was too much grabbing and holding on both sides. There wasn't gonna be anything pretty. So somebody was gonna have to make a couple plays, and whichever team did that would probably win.
I thought down the stretch, guys did that for us.
Sophomore forward Steve Ware scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half and added 15 rebounds for a double-double to help the Cougars (9-9, 5-2 Freedom Conference) end a two-game slide.
Anthony Sergio (11 points) and Cael Evans (10) both hit double figures off the bench for Misericordia, with Evans scoring all 10 after halftime.
It was a game that featured 44 fouls, three foul-outs, plenty more whistles and even some extra stoppages for TV timeouts, just for good measure.
It was ugly, King's coach J.P. Andrejko said. There was about a million whistles and the game never had a flow to it. Neither team really executed great on offense.
I give their defense credit. I thought they did a nice job coming out and pressuring and taking some of our shooters out of the game.
Misericordia held the Monarchs to just 30 percent shooting (17-of-56) from the floor and put the clamps on senior guard Matt Fiorino.
Fiorino, the reigning Freedom Conference Player of the Week, was held to one field goal and finished with just three points. He had scored 46 over two games last week, including a career-best 28 against Wilkes.
With point guard Joe Caffrey picking up his fourth foul early in the second half, Fiorino shifted back to the point, limiting his opportunities to fire away.
All of the sudden, our rhythm changes, Andrejko said of Caffrey being forced to the bench.
A sluggish first half saw neither team crack 30 percent shooting from the floor, as Misericordia claimed a 22-16 lead at the break.
King's (8-10, 3-4) shot just 6-of-28 as a team in the opening frame. The Cougars weren't much better off at 7-for-25.
The night didn't start off quite that slowly as Sergio knocked down three straight threes for the Cougars, who led 16-5 midway through the first.
But the Monarchs only allowed one more field goal for the rest of the half to keep things from getting out of hand. King's even briefly pulled ahead at 28-26 midway through the second half.
Caffrey hit the bench during that same stretch, however, and Misericordia was able to take control from there.
Kyle Hammonds (21 points) pulled the Monarchs back within four at 40-36 with a three with 7:40 to play. Misericordia's Jesse Urich and Ware answered right back with three-point plays of their own to keep King's at bay.
It was a sloppy game. It was ugly, Woodruff said. I'm just happy we're the team that won.
KING'S (54): Matt Fiorino 1-8 1-3 3, Joe Caffrey 1- 4 1-2 3, Kyle Hammonds 6-15 7-9 21, Tom Heston 3-6 0-0 6, Ian Oakley 1-2 4-6 6, Alex Cardoza 0-0 0-0 0, Rich Douglas 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Hughes 3-4 0-0 6, Tim O'Shea 2-11 3-3 7, Keyton Winder 0-6 2-2 2, Dalton Ell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-56 18-25 54.
MISERICORDIA (63): Sean Bieski 2-8 0-2 4, Jesse Urich 2-4 0-0 6, Matt Greene 1-6 7-8 9, Steve Ware 4-10 10-13 18, Justin Grotevant 1-3 3-4 5, Joe Busacca 0-4 0-0 0, Anthony Sergio 4-8 0-0 11, Cael Evans 4-8 2-3 10. Totals 18-51 22-30.
Halftime— Misericordia, 22-16
3-point field goals— KC 2-12 (Hammonds 2-7, O'Shea 0-1, Winder 0-1, Fiorino 0-3); MU 5-17 (Sergio 3-6, Urich 2-4, Bieski 0-1, Grotevant 0-1, Greene 0-5)