LEBANON, Ill. -- Harry Statham won his 1,000th game Friday night, toppling yet another milestone in a 44-year career at McKendree University.
McKendree pulled away from a five-point halftime lead in a 79-49 victory over East-West University, fulfilling expectations of a sellout crowd of 1,600 that featured 10 shirtless students with "Harry1,000!" spelled out on their chests.
About two dozen former players attended the milestone game in the gym that bears the 72-year-old Statham's name. He is 1,000-381 at the NAIA school, about a half-hour drive east of St. Louis.
Tennessee women's coach Pat Summit, who is 1,005-193 in 35 seasons, is the only other coach of a four-year school to reach 1,000 wins. Gene Bess of Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., a two-year school, has 1,087 victories.
After the game, East-West coach Michael Lang shook Statham's hand and then raised the veteran coach's left arm high into the air.
McKendree, ranked fifth in the NAIA preseason poll, led by only five points at halftime against a team that entered 2-2. Players perhaps were trying too hard for their coach, going scoreless for 4½ minutes before Eric Hobbie bounced in a 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go.
Both Statham and his wife, Rose, who was sitting in the second row in stands opposite her husband, wore anguished expressions much of the first half.
Statham has been the men's victory leader since passing North Carolina legend Dean Smith with his 880th victory in 2004. That game drew 70 former players.