Blazers couldn't get open shots to fall in 51-49 loss
As time expired, the buzzer beating shot from the Einstein Titans guard banked off the backboard and sunk through the net. The Blair Blazers were handed their first loss of the young season, 51-49, in a game in which Blair was set back by missed open jumpers, layups and free throws. Despite controlling the ball and playing strong defense throughout the game, the Blazers lack of offense led to the loss on Tuesday night.
Blair seemed to lack the energy and crispness they had in the season opener right from the start.
Einstein began the game on an 8-0 run, hitting two three-pointers during the run. The Blazers were cold from the field until almost four minutes into the first quarter on a fastbreak steal by Jared Williams. "I don't think we turned the ball over in that stretch, we had pretty good looks, but it was a pattern throughout the game where we just missed shots we normally make," said head coach Damon Pigrom.
The game was slowed down by fouls from both teams, which heightened the importance of free throws. 21 of the 43 combined first half points between the teams were either and-one or from free throws. In the second quarter, the Blazers still had trouble making their jump shots, scoring just eight points. At the end of the half, Blair had just 19 points, but they were only five points down in the low-scoring game. "We lacked discipline on defense and we tried to reach for the ball too much, we just allowed them to keep themselves in the game with free throws and they made up for what they weren't making on the court with their free throw shooting," said senior guard Tucker Nosal, who scored a team high 11 points.
Despite the sluggish first half, Blair came out strong in the second, going on an 8-0 run and taking their first lead of the game. The Blazers came out running and forced their way into the lane in transition, leading to kick outs for jump shots, free throws and second chance opportunities. But the Titans came back quickly, regaining the lead and going up by seven at one point. "We made a couple adjustments, we scored in transitions off some steals, but they did a good job countering what we did to fight through our aggressive spurt," said Pigrom.
But Blair wasn't ready to go down. Julius Cobb got the ball in the corner, drove down the baseline and scored the layup while getting fouled. He drained his free throw and next time down the court, Einstein left Burke wide open in the corner, where he calmly sank the three pointer to bring Blair within one. A few minutes later, with Blair down by three, a long pause ensued as the scorers tried to figure out the score. When all was said and done, the referees took one point away from Einstein, leaving Blair down by just two.
In the fourth quarter the teams traded free throws and the occasional basket. Nosal hit a three to tie the game at 47 apiece. Some clutch shooting ensued with Einstein knocking down two free throws countered by a perfect pair from Demetri Cooper. Then with time winding down the final shot went through the net. Some nights the shots don't fall and teams need to find other ways to win. "This is just the learning experience. It's early in the season and we'll learn from this," said Jordan Cobb.
The Blazers will host Walter Johnson next on Monday night at Blair
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