For the first time since November 5, the No. 1 Benedictine basketball went into the locker room on the short end of the a game result with a 74-65 defeat from No. 24 Peru State Tuesday night at Ralph Nolan Gymnasium in the Heart of America Conference Tournament Championship.
The Ravens had beaten the Bobcats in the teams' two previous meetings this season but this time the Benedictine offense had a rough night shooting wise, specifically from beyond the arc.
The Ravens went 6-26 from the three-point line including senior Thomas O'Connor having an off night going 1-10 from three.
"We just didn't hit our shots and Thomas a lot that he usually makes which sucks but it happens," Freshman Eric Kruz said. "They hit their shots and had a couple of guys step up for them."
Kruz finished with a game high 26 points. 12 rebounds.
Despite the disappointing result, coach Ryan Moody is confident with how his team will handle their first defeat in about four months.
"I think they'll be good," Moody said. "Not that we wanted to lose or expected to lose but this is a high character group."
This was the first time ever the Heart Conference Tournament Championship game was hosted at Ralph Nolan Gymnasium in front of a packed house that at one point was pretty much just standing room only.
Moody said he thought the team handled the historic circumstances pretty well even with the game not going their way.
"I thought we handled everything tonight with some pretty good class," Moody said. "This is the biggest crowd that has ever been in this building. In a really heated game where we weren't at our best."
Moody also said that simply being tired was also an obstacle the Ravens faced tonight.
"We looked a little tired but Peru did guard us pretty well," Moody said. "Thomas O'Connor doesn't go 1-10 from the field very often. We just looked a little out of sorts with our top guys."
The conference title game was also the third time Benedictine has faced senior forward Lyle Hexom who was named the Heart Player of the Year and averages 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Moody said Hexom brings a daunting challenge to the floor.
"He's just a great player and he probably presents the biggest challenge out of anyone on that team," Moody said.
Moody said he isn't worried about this loss lingering into the the NAIA Basketball Championship next week in Kansas City.
"We walked into that locker room and they're already talking about tomorrow," Moody said. "This group just kind of moves and that's what they have done all year."
The Ravens will find out who they will face in next weeks tournament today at 5 p.m. during the selection show on the NAIA Facebook page.