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Hawks' Comeback Comes Up Short

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CC_GSACThu., Dec 29th, 2011 [box score]
El Cajon, Calif. --A comeback fell just short for the San Diego Christian College men’s basketball team on Thursday night, as Benji Arvizu’s drive and shot as time expired fell off the side of the rim in a 60-58 loss to Ashford University (IA). The Hawks fought back from a double digit deficit in the second half and tied the game with less than two minutes left, but couldn’t overcome a late Saints’ surge get the win.

“It was a tale of two halves,” said Head Coach Tim Cook. “To win college basketball games, you need to play two complete halves. When you prepare and don’t perform the way you have prepared, you have to change it. We made the change in the second half, but it was not enough.”

“We were able to get to the top of the mountain, but were not able to get over the top.”

Close calls are becoming the norm for SDC this season. In their eight games, the Hawks have played three games that have been decided by less than three points.

The loss sends SDC to 3-5 and AU moves to 10-5.

SDC started strong, jumping up 6-1 after a pair of layups from Xavier Mylleville (pictured left). The Saints responded and took the lead at 10-9 after a three point play from AU’s Matthias Burns; the Saints would never trail again. AU pieced together a 14-5 run over an eight minute stretch to open up a 10 point advantage. SDC’s Johnny Del Bene converted a layup just before halftime to slice the AU lead to 26-18 heading to the locker room, following the low scoring first half.

Neither team shot well in the first half, with AU connecting on 7-22 field goals (31.8%) while SDC hit 6-18 shots (33.3%). The difference was from the free throw line, as AU was 11-16 from the charity stripe and SDC was 6-12.

The second half saw both teams go on small runs throughout. After AU stretched their lead to 35-25, SDC scored the next seven points on three straight possessions on buckets from Calvin Seaberry, Del Bene, and Kevin Dawson to cut the lead to 35-32.

The Saints bounced right back and went on a small 7-0 run of their own to move the lead back to double digits with 10:42 remaining. Both teams kept exchanging baskets for much of the second half, and AU looked to be pulling away with a 54-45 lead with 4:26 left in the game.

The Hawks would not go quietly, as Del Bene drove and kicked the ball out to Tim Sanders who drilled a three pointer to cut the lead to 54-48. After a defensive stop, Del Bene drove and hit a leaning jumper in the lane to bring the AU lead down to 54-50. After a pair of Saints free throws, SDC’s Keenan Patterson connected on a three pointer from the corner to make it a one possession game at 56-53 with 1:20 left in the game. The Hawks’ defense forced a bad pass from the Saints, setting up the opportunity to tie the game for the first time since early in the first half.

On the ensuing possession, Dawson drove and kicked the ball out to Del Bene, who promptly drilled a three pointer to tie the game. The tie would last only a few seconds, as AU’s Jonathan Wyatt nailed a three pointer from the corner on a skip pass from Jason Landry to put the Saints up 59-56. On the next possession, SDC pounded it inside to Sanders, who hit a turnaround jumper in the paint to cut the lead to one.

SDC worked for a steal, but were unable to strip the ball, and fouled the Saint’s Javier Valdez. After missing the first free throw, Valdez made the second, sending AU to a 60-58 advantage. AU, with a foul to give, fouled Del Bene with :4.7 seconds left in the game as he crossed half court.

After an SDC timeout, Arvizu caught the inbound pass and drove to his left, getting into the lane and putting up a shot. The ball fell off the side of the rim and was batted out as time expired.

SDC was led by Sanders with 12 points, including hitting 3-5 three pointers. Del Bene added 12 points and Mylleville had 10 points.

The Hawks shot 64% from the field in the second half, including hitting 6-9 three pointers. SDC struggled from the free throw line, connecting on only 8-15 attempts. SDC outrebounded AU 31-22, but the Saints forced 17 SDC turnovers, leading to 17 points.

“I was happy with the way we rebounded and played in the second half,” continued Cook. “Ultimately, missed free throws and turnovers did us in. We are a more efficient team than that but did not execute tonight.”

“We must continue to improve and work to play a complete 40 minutes to be the team we want to be.”

The Hawks continue their season on Friday, December 30th at 6:00pm against Baker University (KS).

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