By Jaz’man Hampton
The Brookhaven College Bears mens basketball team made a success out of their first home game against the Louisiana College Wildcats Nov. 1. The Bears had a slow start, allowing the Wildcats to score 12 of their first 19 points from the threepoint line in the early part of the first half, but they ultimately prevailed with a final score of 89-74.
“They looked like this was their first game,” Kevin Hurst, head basketball coach, said.
The Bears struggled against the Wildcats offense in the first half. The Wildcats rained three-pointers into the hoop and pressed hard on both offense and defense for a good portion of the first half, keeping the lead 15-18. The Bears never trailed too far behind, however, with a bounce pass to forward Kaseen Penn Jr. for the layup, making it a one possession game.
Coming off a timeout, the Wildcats quickly responded to the Bears with another threepointer from Wildcat point guard Jacquez Coleman. Bears guard D’Andre Dudley came off the bench ready to play with a drive to the basket, scoring a point and bringing the game closer.
With seven minutes left in the first half, the Bears took the lead 30-29.
The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Jeremy Ford threw the ball in and missed the initial shot with six seconds left on the clock. Dudley came down with the rebound, putting the ball up with one second left on the clock for the point, holding on to the lead 36-34.
The Wildcats did not let the Bears lead for long. They took over the ball, pressing hard and coming back off the rebound of the Bears’ missed shots for a 38-40 lead. In the last two minutes of the first half, Dudley knocked down a jumper, taking the two teams to a tie at 40-40.
It looked like the Bears were going to take the first half until the Wildcats picked up a foul from the Bears, keeping a tight grip on the lead. The first half ended with a score of 46-47.
“We missed 19 free throws, so we’ve just got to work on that and get better,” Brady Chamberlain, a Brookhaven player, said.
The Bears came back into the game with the second first shot of the half.
“Any time you have freshmen playing their first home game, it’s going to be a slow start,” Hurst said.
The theme of the second half was the fouls. The Bears failed to make as many free throws as they hoped, but they put up enough of a fight to stay in the game. The Wildcats called a timeout when the score reached 50-50.
Bears forward J’Michael Jasper made a big play with a layup coming off the backboard for the free throw, bringing the game to 54-56.
The hustle of both teams in the earlier part of the second half was on point as they each fought to keep the ball. The Wildcats still held the lead 55-65. The 10-point lead was the largest of the game.
The Bears used the full-court press in the middle of the second half, pushing the Wildcats to make turnovers and give fouls. As the Bears went on a run, the Wildcats slowly started to look more tired.
The Bears came back with some big plays, taking the team to a 73-70 lead, which they held for the duration of the game. The Wildcats’ fast-paced game slowed to a crawl.
The back-to-back fouls from the Wildcats defense to the Bears offense late in the second half raised the Bears’ lead up 5 points, 77-72.
“Overall, as a team, we did good,” Ford said.
The Bears owned the last two minutes of the game, finishing on a 34-7 run to close the game.
“I’m glad we won, but we still have a lot to work on,” Chamberlain said.