The Mark Twain boys basketball team struggled when it mattered most Friday night during a 65-53 loss at Elsberry.

The Mark Twain boys basketball team struggled when it mattered most Friday night during a 65-53 Eastern Missouri Conference loss at Elsberry. 

The Tigers (8-14, 3-5 EMO) closed to within two points at the end of the third quarter, but the host Indians (11-12, 6-2) closed the game on a 21-11 run in the final period to send Mark Twain to its eighth consecutive loss. 

Elsberry sank nine free throws in the fourth quarter to secure the outcome.

“We turned the ball over and missed a lot of easy shots,” Mark Twain head coach Cody McCann said of how the fourth spiraled. “They executed and scored. They hit free throws there late to pull away. They missed some early in the fourth but were able to knock them down.”

Grant Peters led Mark Twain with 18 points and 14 rebounds. 

Devin Neff scored 12 points in the loss, while Preston Eckler was the third Tiger in double figures with 10. 

Elsberry led 13-12 after the first quarter and maintained a 31-27 edge entering the intermission. 

Five Mark Twain players scored in the third quarter as the visitors pulled within 44-42. 

But Nathan Reed, who finished with 14 points, connected for a three in the fourth quarter to help Elsberry seal the deal.

Garik Hill also added 14 points for the Indians. 

McCann mentioned his team had difficulty responding to adversity when calls didn't go their way.

Three Mark Twain players finished with four fouls.

“The main lesson we have to learn is to keep playing,” McCann said. “The game got out of hand both ways with fouls and stuff not being called and it affected us a bit. We just have to power through and play our game.”

Mark Twain hosts North Callaway on Tuesday night.