Red hot Cougar start doesn't hold up
The Western Nebraska Community College men's basketball team had a five minute dry spell in the second half that saw Laramie County Community College go on a 16-0 run and capture a 76-74 South Sub-Region win over the Cougars Tuesday evening at Cougar Palace.
"They did what they needed to do and we didn't do what we knew that worked," WNCC coach Russ Beck said. "Our communication started to break down because of a little bit lack of energy and because of that we lost our composure a little bit.
"That was evident in the last minute of the game when it is still a ball game. We turned the ball over twice, Zach misses a tough one. It was kind of a heartbreaker but, shoot, we just have to get past it. We have two really tough games this weekend. We have to let it sting but we have to move on. This is one that we should have had tonight."
What hurts even more is the Cougars were playing so well as they built a 17-point lead, 67-50 on buckets by Chad Calcaterra and Cody Johnson. Beck said was pleased how they were playing at that point, too.
"It was a tale of two halves," he said. "We played great early on and we had a good 10 minute stretch of scoring with good defense and talk and we equaled that in the second half except with a poor performance defensively, which led to easy buckets for them."
WNCC started the contest red-hot, running out to a 15-2 lead to start the game on two Sebastian Suarez 3-pointers and a dunk, while Charles Ward buried a trey and scored after stealing the ball.
Things changed quickly as LCCC came back to cut the lead to 21-20 on a 3-pointer by Julian Chiera. The Golden Eagles took their first lead moments later at 30-26 after two big 3-pointers, including a trey by Emory Bennett. WNCC came back to take a 41-35 halftime lead behind a big 3-pointer by Ward and six points from Quante Cooley.
WNCC kept playing well in the second half, building a double-digit lead at 52-42 on a bucket by Ward. The Cougars' Zach Clemens then scored six straight points to burst open the gate to a 58-44 lead with 14 minutes to play.
The Cougars led 67-50 with about 10 minutes to play. LCCC then scored seven straight points to slice the lead to 67-57, but WNCC got a free throw by Cooley to go back up by 11 points with just under seven minutes to play.
That was when LCCC went on the 16-0 run that spanned over six minutes that saw the Golden Eagles take a 73-68 lead. WNCC finally stopped the dry spell with a free throw by Tahir Little. WNCC cut the lead to one point, 75-74 on a Chad Calcaterra old-fashioned play with 11.5 seconds to play. Calcaterra's field goal, by the way, was the first field goal the Cougars scored since Johnson's bucket to make it 67-50 in over eight or nine minutes.
After two missed free throws, WNCC had a chance for a last second possession to either tie or win it, but a turnover ruined the comeback.
Both teams shot well. WNCC was 43 percent from the field while LCCC was 48 percent. The Golden Eagles buried seven treys on the night and the Cougars were one behind with six 3-pointers.
WNCC had three players in double figures. Ward led the way with 25 points followed by Johnson with 12 and Suarez with 11. Cooley finished with eight points and 11 rebouinds.
LCCC also had three in double digits. Chiera led the way with 19 points followed by Ude Ifeanyichukwu with 17 and Stewart Washington with 11.
WNCC will be back in action this weekend when they travel to Otero Junior College on Friday and Trinidad State Junior College on Saturday for two more sub-region contests.
LCCC 35 41 Â– 76
WNCC 41 33 Â– 74
Deshon Portley 8, Stewart Washington11, Patrick Stephesn 5, Ben Davis 3, Julian Chiera 19, Ude Ifeanyichukwu 17, German Decoste 4, Emory Bennett 9.
Tahir Little 3, Zach Clemens 8, Quante Cooley 8, Charles Ward 25, Sebastian Suarez 11, Cody Johnson 13, Chad Calcaterra 7.
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