Ward scores 37 but Cougars lose in OT
The Western Nebraska Community College men's basketball team lost another heartbreaker Saturday afternoon, falling to Otero Junior College 100-93 in overtime at Cougar Palace.
It was the teams' fourth overtime loss in the last eight games. Trey Moore, who finished with nine points and eight assists, said the team competed hard to tie the game at 82-82 to force overtime, but they just need to learn to finish.
"We played hard but it is our fourth overtime loss and I was pretty sure that we would have won one sometime," Moore said. "It was big of us to come back, but we have to finish the game. "
The way the Cougars came back to force overtime was thrilling. The Cougars didn't take their first lead of the contest until the 13:14 mark of the second half on a Charles Ward bucket. The Cougars were then down by as much as five points on different occasions with a minute to play when things started to turn their way.
Ward was the catalyst of the comeback as he hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds play to slice the lead to 80-78. Moments later, Ward stole the ball and dunked home the tying bucket. Otero came back and went ahead 82-80 with 21.3 seconds to play on two free throws by Yoshio Allen. WNCC answered as Tahir Little found a small gap underneath the bucket with 9.4 seconds to play to tie the game at 82-82.
Otero had a chance to win it at the end of regulation but the Cougars came through with two blocks to force the extra period.
Moore said the way the team came back, never giving up after the Rattlers opened the game with five straight 3-pointers, shows a lot of heart with this team.
"Those blocks were a big momentum changer because they still had time so we couldn't celebrate after Ty made that shot. We got back and got the stop and send it into overtime," Moore said. "We just need to get over that hump and come together as a team and make some shots in overtime."
The Cougars were led in scoring by Ward with 37 points. Ward was 10 of 11 from the field, including four 3-pointers. WNCC also saw Quante Cooley finish with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Cody Johnson has 12 points.
The Cougars did out-rebound the Rattlers 40-39 and also dished out 26 assists. Little led the team in assists with nine followed by Moore with eight.
The sub-region heart-breaking loss drops the team to 1-3 in the south sub-region, but they still are not out of a top finish for the regional tournament as they have plenty of sub-region games left.
"We still can win sub-regions with three losses, so we have to take it one game at a time," Moore said. "We have to just get over that hump, dig deep and just keep going. We battled the whole game out there today, but we just have to finish games."
Still, it is vital that that Cougars learn to close out a game. Look at it this way, if the Cougars would have won the four overtime games, their 7-10 record would be 11-6. On top of everything, the road doesn't get any easier as they host Eastern Wyoming on Tuesday in another sub-region contest.
"We will get rested up with our Sunday break and then come back Monday, practice hard and prepare for them," Moore said. "We don't want another loss at home."
Tuesday's home contest begins at 7:30 p.m. and after that, the Cougars won't be home again until Feb. 8-9 against Lamar Community College and Northeastern Junior College.
Otero 41 41 19 Â– 100
WNCC 36 46 11 Â– 93
Chris Golden 17, Perryonte Smith 13, Kentwan Smith 17, Terrel Brown 10, Andre Reider 15, Alex Padgett 6, Yoshio Allen 20, Daniel Hield 2.
Tahir Little 7, Zach Clemens 4, Quante Cooley 16, Trey Moore 9, Charles Ward 37, Cody Johnson 12, Youssoupha Kane 6, Chad Calcaterra 2.
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