Written by Daniel Krueger
Despite a dominant first half, the Colorado College men’s basketball team lost 93-91 in overtime to in-state rival Johnson and Wales University this past Tuesday at Reid Arena. The team now sits with a 1-6 record heading into their first conference game, which is next Friday against the University of Dallas.
The Tigers were dominant early in the game. At the 10:22 mark of the first half, CC led Johnson and Wales by 22 points. According to sophomore guard Edmund Pendleton, their fast start was due to a vivacity they were able to find in the locker room before the game.
“Early on, we came out with a ton of energy,” said Pendleton. “We took our time and got into our offensive sets. We basically just ran the offense.”
Then things went south for the Tigers. They let the Wildcats back into the game by rushing shots and not taking care of the ball.
“Our communication and lack of energy were both factors during the stretch where we lost the lead,” said Pendleton. Pendleton went on to say that he felt his team became complacent after they had formed such a big lead early in the game.
After the Tigers lost their 22-point lead, they still had a chance to win the game in regulation. With 2.9 seconds remaining, junior guard Eric Houska went to the free-throw line and made both of his free-throws, pushing the CC lead to three points. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Johnson and Wales lobbed the ball down to sophomore guard Jontrell Herman who took one dribble, stepped back, and hit a three to tie the game as time expired.
In overtime the Tigers had two separate four-point leads, only to see them both evaporate. Fouls were a big issue for the Tigers in overtime. They sent Johnson and Wales to the line and the Wildcats converted nine of their 10 free-throws. The final was 93-91 in favor of the visiting Wildcats.
The Tigers were led by junior forward John Hatch’s 24 points and four blocks. CC had four of their five starters score in double digits. Houska finished the game with a double-double of 17 points to go along with 10 assists.
Johnson and Wales were led by Herman who scored 27 points on the night, and sophomore guard Andrew Romero who scored 30 points to go along with eight assists.
Johnson and Wales finished the game with a 27-13 edge in points off turnovers while the Tigers led 17-10 in bench points.
This year the Tigers feature zero seniors. They are a young team with talent, but have not quite been able to hit their stride so far this season. Also, the Tigers have yet to play any conference games. They should have faith that a very difficult nonconference season, laden with some pretty strong D-II teams, will have amply prepared them to face this year’s Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference foes. Chris Martin, a 6’5” junior forward believes that Texas Lutheran will be this year’s best team in the SCAC, as they return nearly their entire team from last year. Despite the test TLU will provide, the Tigers are confident they can compete in the SCAC this year.
“If we can stay healthy the rest of the season, we hope to be a one or a two seed in the SCAC,” said Martin.
This year’s first-years have made quite the impact on the team, according to both Martin and Pendleton. They specifically mentioned first-year guard Nabeel Elabdeia as a player to watch in the next few seasons. His work ethic and contributions in practice make the team better every day, the upperclassmen said.
Following a bye week this week, the Tigers will face the University of Dallas in their first game of SCAC play next week at Reid Arena.