T-Birds strike down NMMI
Pictured: JJ Davenport
2/10/2012 1:29:27 PM
T-Birds strike down NMMI
Hobbs, NM - A pair of well-timed assists, a three-point play, and a 3-pointer contributed to Desmond Lee’s path of destruction at the end of a 17-2 run in the second half of New Mexico Junior College’s 80-59 win over New Mexico Military Institute on Thursday at Caster Activity Center. Lee scored 10 of the final 12 points of the run (the other two were a pair of Broncos free throws) to all but put NMMI away.
The Broncos got their closest in the second half with a D’Marnier Cunningham jumper about four minutes in, trimming the Thunderbirds’ lead to 49-38, but back-to-back buckets by Ryan Okwudibonye took the lead back over double digits.
A 3-pointer by NMMI’s Desmond Barnes, who led the Broncos with 16 points, with 14:23 left was NMMI’s final goal for the next 3:40 as the T-Birds took over. After inside goals by Alexander Ovcharenko and Alex Phillips and a 3-pointer by Lorelle Waters, Lee sparked his run with a three-point play with 12:14 left. He slammed in an alley-oop off a Robert Turner assist 19 seconds later and hit a 3-pointer with 11:23 left before laying in his final shot off a Phillips assist through traffic, taking NMJC’s lead to 70-43 with 10:58 remaining.
After a fadeaway jumper by Phillips, who finished with 14 points, and a dunk by Turner took the lead to 74-45, the T-Birds went 5:27 without a goal and scored just six points the rest of the way. The cold streak surpassed a similar stretch near the end of the first half when NMJC went 5:24 without a field goal before closing on a 8-0 run and taking a 43-29 lead into the break.
“We had good focus,” NMJC coach Chris Tifft said. “We had a lot of foul trouble early and had to play a lot of different lineups, but we shot the ball well in the first half…Those games are long games once you get up and you’re trying to find a way to finish it.”
The T-Birds offensive approach differed in the two halves as their jump shots were falling in the first half. NMJC shot 14-for-27 (51.9 percent) from the field in the first half and was 5-for-8 (62.5 percent) from beyond the arc. Waters’ and Lee’s 3-pointers were the T-Birds’ only jump shots of the first 10 minutes of the second half as NMJC took over the inside game. The T-Birds recorded 10 of its 15 assists in the second half.
“That’s something that we’re trying to do,” Tifft said. “We’re trying to get the ball inside and allow that to get us to the free-throw line and improve our shooting percentages on the perimeter.”
Lee and Binney each finished with 14 points while J.J. Davenport scored 10 points. The T-Birds finished 29-for-60 (48.3 percent) from the field and 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range. NMJC outrebounded the Broncos 42-33.
However it does not get much easier from here as the T-Birds continue the second half of the WJCAC slate Monday at Midland, Thursday against No. 10 Odessa, and Feb. 20 at No. 1 South Plains.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Tifft said. “We cleaned some things up on both ends of the floor. We’ve gotten ourselves refocused and made sure we’re playing a better brand of basketball.”