February 21, 2012

Tough Loss for the Sea Devils

Tyler Heffernan | Sea Devil Journalist

Basketball is a game of possessions. A missed field goal in the closing minutes is magnified in a losing effort, but a missed shot in the first half would have been worth the same amount of points.

The Cape Fear Community College men's basketball team wasn't able to capitalize on open opportunities throughout the game, as the Sea Devils dropped a 75-72 decision to USC Salkehatchie, Saturday in the Schwartz Center.

"I thought we battled," CFCC coach Ryan Mantlo said. "Our guys never gave up. Unfortunately, we missed too many layups to get it done tonight. Give the credit to them, they hit some tough shots down the stretch and we didn't."

When either team made a run, the opposition would answer with a scoring outburst of its own. A 39-33 Sea Devil advantage early in the second half was the largest margin of the game.

The Indians were paced by Quincy Washington's 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Washington attacked the rim and finished with three dunks, his final slam giving USCS a 70-68 lead with 1:50 left.

CFCC battled back behind strong post play, particularly from forwards Landon Atterberry and Randell Jones, who finished with 17 and 11 points, respectively.

"Both of those guys played great. I think our frontcourt is very solid; they play so hard," Mantlo said. "We've worked all season long just on positioning and continuing to feed the post. Our guys have bought into it, and it's made us a better team."

Atterberry scored in the paint to tie the game at 70 just 20 seconds after Washington's dunk. But, both teams continued to trade baskets, as USCS's Jimmy Givens drove to the basket and hit a fadeaway 15-footer to put the Indians back on top by two. A missed Sea Devils opportunity gave USCS the ball back, but the Indians managed to only make one of two free throws after CFCC was forced to foul.

Emmanuel Andrews, the Sea Devils' explosive guard committed to Liberty University next season, missed two three-point attempts on the following possession, but CFCC retained possession. Following a timeout, Rakeem Wilson drove to the basket and notched his fourth field goal of the game with 19.3 seconds left to pull CFCC within one point.

Again facing a must-foul situation, USCS only converted one of two free throws, giving CFCC a chance to pull off the rally. Wilson attacked the basket in similar fashion as the previous possession, but this time his attempt rimmed out. Jones gathered the rebound, but he too, missed a close shot.

USCS corralled the ball with 0.9 seconds left, handing CFCC (11-15, 2-8 Region 10) its ninth loss in the past 11 games. In that stretch, the Sea Devils' margin of defeat is 5.2 points.

"We just have to continue doing what we're doing, and I think we're going to be fine," Mantlo said. "It's going to take one of those wins that we just start getting on a run to where they start playing with a swagger. If that happens, we can be very, very dangerous."

The Sea Devils look to return to the win column, Feb. 24 against Denmark Technical Community College. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.