Bengals' tenacious D suffocates Blazers early
JAN. 12, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—
The Blazers' third loss and second blowout in a row dropped them to 4-4 as they lost, 85-69, to the Blake Bengals. Blake's incredibly effective press suffocated the Blazers early on. That lack of momentum carried into the rest of the game and Blair was never able to make up its 17-point first-quarter deficit.
On its first six possessions, Blair turned the ball over. Blake scored every time to open the game 8-0. Several of those turnovers came on five-second violations after Blake baskets; the Blake D was so overpowering that the Blazers simply could not get the ball inbounds. The Blazers finally got on the board thanks to a pretty reverse lay-up from junior Doojy Pierre-Louis. The Bengals scored 13 straight, though, and Blair's only other points in the quarter came on a pair of free throws.
The second quarter was much better on the Blazers' end, as Blair outscored Blake 27-23 before the half. Had Blair not missed ten of its free throws in the first half, its halftime deficit could have been three rather than the 44-31 hill it faced to start the second half. "You can't miss ten free throws in a half and expect to be competitive," said Assistant Coach Wendell Hall.
A pair of monster leaps by senior point guard Perry Smith, who is just 5'10," were the high points of the half. The first was a ridiculous one-handed jam from halfway down the paint. The second was a floating lay-up over a Blake defender from as far away. Both plays drew huge cheers from fans who welcomed any chance to ignore the scoreboard.
The second half started pretty much as the second quarter had: The Blazers played hard but could not make a dent in Blake's lead. The teams each scored 16 in the third quarter, but the foul calls all went against Blair and several starters got into trouble, including Blair's leading scorer for the game, senior power forward Charles Atakora, who had 18 before fouling out midway through the final period. Blake only had four fouls in the second half and while the Blazers made most of their free throws after the break, they simply didn't take enough for that to make a difference. On the game, Blair shot 21-for-32 from the line, an improvement over some earlier performances but an ineffectual one.
Atakora summed up the game succinctly: "We came out dead and waited for the second quarter to play. We were too far down. Simple as that."
Hall was disappointed with the team's performance, but he lauded Blake for playing scrappy basketball. "Their team is not 20 points better than us, but their desire tonight was 20 points better than ours. Our game plan was set, we were prepared, but when we got on the floor we didn't execute and they did."
On the plus side, almost all of the Blazers got playing time and several players got their first points of the season late in the game. Blair plays again at home Wed., Jan. 14 against Sherwood. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
Click here to stream the Blair Sports Network's highlights from this game.
Luke Bostian. Luke Bostian is a senior in CAP and has nothing much to say for himself. Well, actually, that's a lie. Luke has a lot to say for himself and says it all the time. So he won't bore you with it. Suffice it to say … More »