A weird start never stopped in a wild game at Rock Island Fieldhouse on Friday.
A technical foul in warmups against Moline helped Rock Island get off to a great start with two free throws and back-to-back 3-pointers to lead Moline 8-2.
Then, things went wrong for the Rocks.
Twenty-nine fouls sent Moline to the free-throw line 44 times (making 33) and the Maroons prevailed 68-55 in a Western Big Six contest.
“We just got outplayed tonight,” Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said.
Moline coach Sean Taylor saw it as just another meeting in the long rivalry of the Rocks and Maroons.
“Both teams came out ready to go and worked to compete at a high level,” he said. “We did a good job when they jumped out on us early and stayed the course. This rivalry of two prideful programs will always give you a tense and tough game. This one was no different.”
The Maroons (6-1, 2-0 WB6) jumped ahead by two late in the first quarter, scoring 10 of their 15 points from the charity stripe. Rock Island senior JaMir Price went to the bench midway through the opening quarter with three fouls, his third on a technical for slamming down the ball.
“We have to show some more composure,” Sigel said. “They have experience, but so do we. We didn’t react to the adversity very well. We had three guys on the bench with three fouls in the second quarter and still, I felt we were OK, down 30-26 at halftime.”
Moline used an 8-2 run to start the second half to build the lead to 10 and the Rocks (5-2, 1-1) never seemed to make it close enough to scare the Maroons, even getting to within six a couple of times.
The last time it got that close, Price fouled Brody Harding for his fifth and then got into a heated argument with a Moline player and was assessed his second technical. Harding hit all four free throws and the lead never dropped below 10 after that.
“If they get it to six, get the ball back and make it a one-score game, we might have been in trouble,” Taylor said. “We were able to score after every time they made it a six-point game.”
A big help to the Maroons was getting junior Harrison Bey-Buie back into the starting lineup for the first time. He had 12 points, two rebounds, two assists and a block, while defending Price much of the time.
“It was hard sitting out those first five games,” said Bey-Buie, who was out with a shoulder injury suffered in football. “I got in and was about 85 percent last week at Quincy, but I felt 100 percent in this one. This is what I was expecting when we played Rocky, it was fun and I like playing that style.”
Harding and Deonte Billups led the Maroons with 20 points each. Drew Wiemers had 10 points and six rebounds.
“Harrison just plays hard,” Taylor said. “Our three big guys got to the line and they are good shooters. Harrison got to the line (nine times) and didn’t shoot as well (six makes) but will be a good free-throw shooter.”
Price, who will have to sit out tonight’s non-conference game against Ottawa for the two technicals, led the Rocks with 15 points.
Taurean Holtam had 14 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Rice finished with 13 points and six caroms.