John Hatch had one of those weekends. The junior forward from Lodi, Wis. scored 29 points in Friday’s game against Centenary College, followed by a 24-point night against Austin College, leading the Tigers to two key Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference wins. The stellar weekend earned Hatch the honor of SCAC Player of the Week. Apart from the prolific scoring, Hatch also averaged 7.5 rebounds per game, to go along with three blocks per game.
Led by Hatch’s third double-double of the season, the Tigers defeated Centenary College by a final score of 67-72. Hatch led all scorers with a career-high of 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. Despite the phenomenal individual performance, Hatch was quick to give kudos to his teammates.
“I have to give the credit to my teammates,” Hatch said following the win. “They have complete trust in me and I have complete trust in them. I think we were effective because we committed ourselves to defense first and were willing to make the effort on that end of the floor which made offense come that much easier.”
Connecticut native Eric Houska also had a standout game for the Tigers. The junior guard had 21 points on 7-13 shooting to go along with four assists and two steals. Both Hatch and Houska have been staples of the Tigers’ starting lineup for two straight years. In Friday’s game against Centenary, the two sat out a mere six combined total minutes.
Defensively, the Tigers forced Centenary into bad shots all night long. They were able to clog up the lane and make Centenary shoot contested shots. Centenary finished the game shooting just 31.3 percent from the field on 21-67 shooting. CC shot 46.3 percent on the game and was 54.2 percent in the second half.
The Tigers headed into Sunday’s game against Austin College oozing with confidence. The struggling Austin College Kangaroos had only managed to win two conference games all season, and the Tigers knew it was a game they should win at their home court Reid Arena.
The Tigers built a 12-point halftime lead and never looked back, beating the Roos 76-87. An interesting development was the birth of what could be a perennial scoring prowess for the Tigers. First-year forward CooXooEii Black recorded his first career double-double with a career high of 21 points and 13 rebounds. Black shot a very efficient 7-14 from the field and only turned the ball over once in 31 minutes.
Hatch had some words for moving forward after reflecting on the weekend’s pair of victories. “From here we just need to continue to have a good attitude towards the game and prepare the right way for the last few games of the season,” he said. “This weekend we play two of the best teams in the conference and we will need to be at the top of our game in order to have a chance to win those games.”
With the two wins over the weekend the Tigers climbed to within a half-game of first place in the SCAC standings. With the championship tournament on the horizon, Hatch said he believes in his team’s ability to win games down the stretch.
“Of course, we want to win a championship,” Hatch said. “I think we have a very talented group of guys who have bought into the system and are willing to do whatever it takes to win. From one to 13 we believe we can win.”
Up next, the Tigers go on the road to face Texas Lutheran University and Southwestern University in two very decisive games. The outcome will undoubtedly determine where the Tigers will be seeded in the SCAC tournament, which will be hosted by Texas Lutheran University in Georgetown, Tex.