Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ada News
The East Central University men's basketball team had trouble getting out of the blocks during a home contest versus Arkansas-Monticello last Thursday inside the Kerr Activities Center.
The Tigers battled back and got within five by halftime. But a similar start to the second half proved to be too much to overcome as the Boll Weevils turned back ECU 69-59.
The Tigers slipped to 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the Great American Conference, while Monticello improved to 7-4 and 2-3.
ECU was 2-of-9 from the field and had five turnovers in falling behind 20-7 to start the game after Monticello big man Dayton Mickens powered home a dunk at the 11:32 mark of the first half.
After getting to 34-29 at halftime, the Boll Weevils took advantage of another ugly ECU stretch to start the second half. The Tiger hit just one field goal in the first four and a half minutes as Monticello stretched its lead to 47-32 with a 13-3 run.
During the two bad starts, the Tigers were outscored 33-10.
"I'm definitely disappointed. We're just rusty. The break really hurt us," said ECU men's coach Mac McConnell. "We have to get better. We're going to stay positive."
The Tigers were dominated in the paint. ECU post players Jason Williams and Henry Pwono combined for 12 points (six points each), while Monticello's Mickens and A.J. Calhoun had 21 and 14 points, respectively, for 35.
"Our bigs didn't come to play tonight … and their bigs had career nights, both of them. (Calhoun) hadn't scored eight points in his whole career there," McConnell said.
The Tigers had trouble solving Arkansas-Monticello's zone defense — mostly a 1-3-1 setup.
"It's going to be our Achilles' heel. When people play us man-to-man, we have a great chance to get out and run and be physical. When they play us zone, for whatever reasons and as much as we work on it, we're stagnant," McConnell explained. "We looked like we're stuck in quicksand. You jack up 21 threes, and you only make five. When we beat the No. 3 team in the country at their place (an 80-67 win over Newman), we only shot 10 threes. You wonder why we're shooting so many right now."
McConnell had to be pleased with the offensive performance of junior Colby Carr, who sank 7-of-9 field goals and finished with a team-high 17 points. He registered a triple double, but it wasn't a sexy triple double. Carr also had team-highs of 13 rebounds and 10 turnovers. Carr arrived late on campus after the Christmas break and missed four of ECU's practices.
"He was rusty. He had a triple double, but that's not the kind of triple double you want," McConnell said.
Freshman Braxton Reeves hit four 3-pointerd off the bench and finished with 12 points for the Tigers.
East Central trailed by as many as 18 — the latest at 66-44 with 9:13 to play after a basket by Monticello's Brandon Sims — but got within seven at 66-59 with 2:01 left on a Carr layup. But the Tigers wouldn't score again.
Monticello guard Kori Forge, who entered the game averaging 22.3 points per game and had hit 34 3-pointers, was limited to 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
The Tigers are back in action Thursday, traveling to Northwestern in Alva.