NO. 1 BLUE DRAGONS RALLY TO TOPPLE SAINTS; ECK WINS 100TH AT HCC, 750TH ALL-TIMEJanuary 31, 2013
HCC Sports Information
Trailing by its largest deficit of the season in the first half, the NJCAA No. 1-ranked Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team managed to tie its huge Jayhawk West matchup with Seward County by halftime and used a game-changing run midway through the second half to keep its perfect start intact with an 87-74 victory on Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.
Fourth-year Blue Dragon head coach Steve Eck won his 100th game on the Hutchinson bench and the 750th game of his storied coaching career. Eck is the seventh Blue Dragon coach to reach 100 victories.
The victory also gave 22-0 Hutchinson (8-0 Jayhawk West) a two-game lead on the entire league at the Jayhawk West’s mid-point. HCC will play host to Dodge City at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday to open the second half of conference play.
Hutchinson’s streak of not trailing at halftime this season looked in jeopardy as Seward County bolted out to a 19-4 lead with 14:13 to play in the opening half. That 15-point deficit is the largest Hutchinson has faced this season and it’s only the second time the Blue Dragons have trailed by more than 10 points in 2012-13.
The Blue Dragons patiently chipped away at the Saints, getting the game down to one possession seven different times before finally tying the game on the eighth attempt of the half. Sophomore A.J. Spencer buried a jumper from the right wing with 1 second remaining to tie the game at 37-all at halftime.
The Saints built two second-half leads of six points, but the Blue Dragons took full control of the game with a dazzling 21-2 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 13-point lead (68-55) with 7:40 to play.
Five different players scored in double figures for Hutchinson led by freshman Kadeem Allen’s 24 points. Allen had a career-high nine free throws, going 9 of 11, with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Spencer had 18 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Alex Davis had 10 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Dre Henley had 10 points and a season-high seven rebounds.
Sophomore point D’Von Campbell played for the first time in seven games. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds, three steals and three assists.
The Blue Dragons shot 28 of 68 overall (41.2 percent), going 3 of 10 from 3-point range and a season-high 28 made free throws in 36 attempts.
Hutchinson out-rebounded its fourth-straight opponent, out-boarding Seward County 51-34. HCC pulled down a season-high 24 offensive boards. In the last four games, Hutchinson has amassed 196 rebounds.
Edson Avila had 20 points to lead Seward County (15-7, 6-2). Avila added eight rebounds. Leslee Smith had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Saints, followed by Malcolm Hill-Bey and Kaheem Ransom with 13 points each and Jabari Peters with 12 points.
Seward County out-shot Hutchinson, shooting 44.8 percent from the field (30 of 67), but went just 1 of 14 from 3-point range and 13 of 19 from the foul line. The Saints had 16 turnovers.
The first 6 minutes of the game belonged to Seward County as it scored the first four points and then 10 unanswered to lead 14-2 with 16:15 to play. Davis hit a jumper, but Smith scored and Peters drilled the Saints’ only 3-pointer of the game to lead 19-4 with 14:13 to play.
Sophomore Rozell Nunn’s 3-pointer with 13:55 to play seemed to relax the Blue Dragons as they reeled off 10-straight points over the next 1 1/2 minutes. Allen’s 3-pointer with 11:38 to go capped the run and pulled the Blue Dragons within 19-14. HCC completed a 15-2 run when Campbell converted a three-point play with 10:30 to play to pull the Dragons within 21-19.
Two Ransom free throws with 5:07 left pushed the Saints’ lead to 31-24, but HCC continued to surge. Trailing 37-33 in the final minute, Henley scored in the paint to pull within two. After a defensive stop, Spencer ran the clock down and stuck a jumper with 1 second remaining to tie the game at intermission.
Seward County had two six-point leads early in the second half. Leading 53-47 with 13;47 left, Spencer and Henley scored on back-to back possessions to pull HCC within two, but Avila scored inside to give the Saints a 55-51 lead with 12:39 to play.
HCC’s game-changing second half run started harmless enough with two Allen free throws, but on the ensuing Saints possession, Henley intercepted a pass and fed it long to a breaking Davis, who was fouled by Brian Bridgeforth. He was assessed a Flagrant I foul, which meant HCC got the free throws and the ball. Davis hit the free throws to tie the game at 55-all. Spencer then scored – following his own miss – to give the Blue Dragons the lead for good.
HCC’s 21-2 run was capped by a Davis jumper with 7:40 to play and it gave the Blue Dragons a 68-55 lead. Seward County went scoreless for 5 minutes, 40 seconds. The closest the Saints got after that was 11 points.
The Blue Dragons will close out this two-game homestand on Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff against Dodge City. It will be the second-annual Blue Dragon Pink-Out Night as HCC helps the fight against Cancer. All proceeds raised will go to the Cancer Council of Reno County.
GAME NOTES – This was all-time victory No. 1,619. … HCC’s 22-game winning streak is the fourth-longest in team history. … HCC’s 22-0 start to the season is the third-best in team history. HCC is now 68-25 all-time vs. Seward County, including 41-4 at the Sports Arena. Hutch has won eight straight at the Arena against Seward County. … Alex Davis moved past Roy “Pooh” Hairston for third place on HCC’s career blocked shots list with 117. … HCC has led 20 times and halftime and has been tied twice, but never has trailed at halftime this season. … HCC was out-shot for only the fourth time this season. … The 51 rebounds are third-most by the Dragons this season. … HCC had 23 second-chance points in the game. … D’Von Campbell tied a career high with three steals and sank a career-high five free throws. … Kadeem Allen had his fifth 20-point game of the season and fourth in league play. … Rozell Nunn had a team-high eight rebounds, which was his seventh game this season of 7 or more rebounds.