By Malen Blackmon
The Brookhaven College men’s basketball team was on the receiving end of an old-fashioned beatdown when the Richland College Thunderducks showed up for the second of two conference matchups, with a final score of 80-40. It was a runaway from the start of the game: the Bears were not in the lead for a single second.
Both teams started fast but out of control, which played into the Thunderducks’ hands as they jumped to a 5-2 lead after a scoreless two minutes. With a rough start for the Bears, Brookhaven head basketball coach Chris McGill called a timeout. At the time of the break, the score was 7-4, but Brookhaven was turning the ball over at a high rate.
Eight minutes into the half, the Bears had 6 points and Richland had not quite turned the burners on yet. On the ensuing possession, however, Richland knocked down a 3-pointer to put them up 12-6.
Brookhaven had trouble finding the bottom of the net, while the Thunderducks continued to settle in. Richland hit another 3 to go up 17-6 with less than nine minutes to go in the half.
Still in the game and trying to avoid the inevitable, McGill called his second timeout. After the break, the Thunderducks continued to pick the Bears’ zone defense apart, scoring a straight 13 points before the Bears could get a bucket of their own.
With the score 27-12 and just under five minutes left in the half, Brookhaven called their third time out, hoping to make a surge into their deficit.
The Thunderducks forced Brookhaven into a shot clock violation that put them on a 5-0 run. Brookhaven was unable to protect the ball or show any consistency on the offensive end. The score at the end of the first half was 38-14.
Brookhaven got the ball to start the second half and guard Thuyler Hardy drove through the lane and finished at the rim only to be fouled. That momentum was short lived, as the Thunderducks would go on another 8-0 run with a couple more Brookhaven turnovers mixed in.
“We didn’t execute the game plan,” Bears guard Landen Stephens said. Missed shots and turnovers were trending.
Richland led 57-26 with eight minutes left when they slowed the pace toward the finish line. Points still did not come easy for Brookhaven. They took a lot of contested shots at the rim, which did not go their way.
During a loose ball, Richland guard Caleb Williams got tangled up with a Brookhaven player and was forced out of the game due to an injury. That time out did not slow Richland down either, as they scored on their next possession, going up 66-29.
The Bears turned their defense up a notch, but they were still unable to create any turnovers for themselves. With less than six minutes to go, Brookhaven made its final push. Richland head coach Jon Havens said, “When you play coach McGill and Brookhaven you know you’re going to get a well-coached team that executes.”
But contested lay-ups at the rim continued to result in rebounds and points for Richland. The Thunderducks continued to bully the Bears in the paint, even with their reserves.
Richland went on another run and called a timeout with less than three minutes left in the game to get the last of their reserves in. Williams said the key to their success on offense was moving the ball around and making sure that everybody got touches.
The NJCAA Regional Tournament will begin Feb. 19, but the playoff picture for the Bears is still in question. Brookhaven will look to finish the rest of their conference games strong in hope of securing a spot for themselves in the postseason.