PHCC nearly pulls off big upset

February 20, 2014

The Patrick Henry Community College men’s basketball team has shown this season it can play with big-time competition.1794764_724576010907354_1486537077_n

Wednesday’s game with NJCAA Division II No. 1 ranked Richard Bland Community College was no different. However, once again it was the Patriots’ lack of execution down the stretch that led to another near miss at knocking off a top Division II team.

Daquan Kerman scored a game-high 23 points, and PHCC climbed back from double-digit deficits in both halves only to fall 76-75 in overtime. The win was the 17th straight for the Statesmen (25-1) and ninth straight on the road for former Patriots head coach Chuck Moore.

Moore — who was 48-16 in two seasons at PHCC — said his team pulled out the win at his former stomping grounds with some good fortune.

“Really, there is not just one thing, it was by luck really,” said Moore of pulling out the victory. “That was as hard a fought game that we have had all year long.”

After entering overtime tied at 67, the Patriots (14-8) were able to grab their first lead of the game since 29-28 in the first half when Kerman hit a free throw. He made four free throws to begin the overtime, and the Patriots held a four-point lead at 71-67 — their biggest lead of the game.

But, it was the Statesmen who had an answer, going on a 9-4 run to close the game. They went to their post players inside, as they did all game, to decide the game. Tavon Mealy and Avery Ugba scored seven straight points for RBCC, helping it retake the lead for good inside the final minute of overtime.

“We kind of settled ourselves down, settled our emotions down and we sat and executed the plays we needed to. We also made our shots,” Moore said.

The Statesmen’s post players were dominant during the game, helping the team score 46 second half points, 24 of them supplied by Mealy and Ugba. Mealy finished with 18 points to lead the Statesmen followed by Ugba’s 16. The team also made a living at the free-throw line in the second half, finishing with 20 points at the stripe on 36 attempts.

After the Patriots’ Josh Beck made an acrobatic layup to cut the Richard Bland lead to one, PHCC got the ball back with one final chance to win the game. Kerman drove the ball inside but lost control of the ball and turned it over. The play was strikingly similar to the one at the end of regulation, when Kerman had a chance to win it for the Patriots.

“At the end it could have went a couple of ways,” PHCC head coach Kenny Wade said. “I thought we had a little bit more time on the clock than what we did.”

Kerman was met by a defender at mid-court and looked to get fouled, Wade said, but was able to drive the lane where he made contact with another defender. The collision forced Kerman to lose control of the ball without getting a shot off.

“I thought Daquan was fouled two times in regulation at the end and I thought he was fouled in overtime, but we didn’t get the calls and that’s the way it happens,” Wade said.

The final seconds of regulation and overtime may have been spots where Kerman would have liked a do-over as his ability to penetrate the defense throughout the game kept PHCC in the game. His 23 points were 10 more than the next leading Patriots scorer, Mustafa Ali.

“We look for (Kerman) to lead the team at all times,” Wade said. “…He just couldn’t make the play at the end and it happens sometimes. He has nothing to hang his head about it.”

The Patriots dug themselves into big holes in each half. That forced them to use lots of energy on defense to get back in the game. RBCC drilled its first three 3-pointers of the game in building at one point a 12-point first-half lead.

The Statesmen then opened the second half on a 10-0 run to open up a one-point lead at the half. But, with well-timed timeouts, good energy on defense and a rambunctious crowd behind them, the Patriots were able to climb out of both deficits.

“Right now, we are in these (the Statesmen) guy’s minds,” Wade said. “They are going to be thinking about us, and tournament time is where it really counts. I’m looking forward to it.”

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