GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Kevin Curley walked into Bream Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon, the lower half of his face covered by a hospital mask.
The McDaniel men's basketball coach was getting over the flu. But there was one thing that could have certainly made him feel better — a season-ending win over host Gettysburg, that would allow the Green Terror to stay home for the playoffs, something any ill person would enjoy.
But it became evident early on in the game that it would not be the case.
McDaniel fell behind early, trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half, and fell 60-52 to the Bullets.
"When we're down we don't play as well," Terror junior guard Wes Brooks said. "We build off each other and when we started having a comeback, we all started playing well. But I think it was too late in the second half."
The Green Terror (14-11, 9-9 Centennial Conference) fell to the No. 5 seed for the conference tournament and will have to play Gettysburg on the road again on Wednesday in a first-round matchup. The winner of that game will face top-seeded Johns Hopkins, in its home gym, in the semifinals on Friday.
With 10 minutes, 20 seconds to go, Sean Gladstone drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing that put the Bullets (14-11, 10-8) up 51-32. That was when McDaniel finally began to get some offense of its own in the second half.
Nic Martin scored on a layup with 9:58 remaining, ending a span of nearly nine minutes without a made field goal. It also began a 12-2 run that ended with a Cameron Royster layup with 6:02 to go, cutting the deficit to 53-44.
But Gettysburg soon scored on three straight possessions, with a 3-pointer by Matt England to make it 60-45 with 3:07 to go.
"They were a little more physical with us, a bit more aggressive," Curley said. "We didn't handle it very well. And I thought they did a good job of driving and attacking."
The Bullets were efficient from the field, shooting 50 percent including 12 for 23 in the first half. Meanwhile, McDaniel was just 18 for 47 from the field, 4 for 15 from 3-point range.
Tim Stewart led the Terror with 11 points, all in the second half. He picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game and sat the rest of the first half.
Kevin Gladstone led Gettysburg with 17 points and Tanner Kirkpatrick added 11 and eight rebounds.
McDaniel went behind 14-7 early, but scored seven straight points to knot it back up at 14-14. Nick Perugnio drilled a 3 from the left corner and then scored on a driving layup with 9:56 to even the score. But Gladstone, who scored 11 in the first half, helped the Bullets build up an 11-point halftime lead.
The Bullets' forward completed a three-point play with 9:40 to go go that made it 17-14, and Gettysburg led the rest of the way.
"They were really driving us tough," Brooks said. "They're big, our guards are smaller, so they just shot right over us. But if we make our shots, it's a whole different game."
Now, McDaniel will just have a few days to prepare for a rematch with the Bullets. But this time, the stakes will be much higher than just home-court advantage.
The Green Terror are looking to win their second playoff game in two years after going 53 years without any. And Brooks said that Saturday's game will help them in knowing what they'll need to do differently.
"The stuff we did wrong, we can learn after that," Brooks said. "It's nice we get to play them four days later and our mistakes we made, we can fix them in the next couple days."