Saints fall short to Titans but beat Umpqua, SWOCC
The Saints men’s basketball team ended their three-game road trip 2-1, with victories over Umpqua and Southwestern Oregon before dropping their game against Lane Wednesday night in Eugene.
The Saints are now in third place in the Southern Region (4-2 in conference, 12-4 overall).
Head Coach Geoff Gibor took blame for the 82-76 loss against the Lane Community College Titans.
“I’ll take the heat on that one,” Gibor said. “We didn’t go real hard on Monday and Tuesday (in practice). That turned out to be a mistake. I was concerned even before we played the game. I knew that Lane was a much better team than their record.”
After posting a 39-37 halftime lead, the Saints ran out of gas in the second half and were outscored by eight points. The Titans converted 27 of 36 shots (75 percent) from the free throw stripe, more than double of the Saints’ 13 of 15 (87 percent) from the line.
“They made more (free throws) than we shot,” said Gibor. “They shot twice as many free throws than us. That can’t happen. That’s a cardinal rule.”
The Saints were out-rebounded 47 to 28. Gibor thought his team’s defense and ability to not rebound the ball was the factor in the loss.
“We could have won the game pretty easily,” said Gibor. “Getting out-rebounded is a big pet peeve of mine. I preach defense and rebounds every single game.”
The Saints were without sophomore forward Jeremy Jones, who twisted his ankle in the previous game. In 15 games, Jones is averaging 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds.
“Missing Jeremy obviously hurts,” said Gibor. “But guys have to step up. That didn’t happen in the Lane game.”
Sophomore point guard Earl Jones led the Saints with 20 points and seven assists in the loss. Three other Saints ended the game in double figures: Jamar Johnson 16, Chris Weitzel 14 and Garrett Strasburg 10.
“We needed to get the ball into Weitzel’s hands,” said Gibor. “He needed more touches. He’s down there (in the post) working hard, working hard and working hard. Eventually he’s not going to work so hard if he’s not getting the ball. We just need to get the ball to him more often. He’s shooting so well from the field (51 percent).”
The Titans were led on offense by sophomore Dominique Watson, a Las Vegas native who finished with a game-high 32 points and nine rebounds, including 11 of 21 from the field and 10 of 14 from the stripe.
“Watson is a phenomenal player,” said Gibor. “This was a wake-up call for our team. I look at it as a blessing in disguise. We just need to refocus and put an emphasis on doing what we do.”
On Saturday, the Saints edged the South Western Community College Lakers 80-77 in Coos Bay in what Gibor calls a hostile environment because of the home crowd factor. Jeremy Jones (19 points on 8 of 16 from the field) and Earl Jones (18 points on 7 of 12 from the field) led the way on offense.
In Friday night’s action, the Saints defeated the Umpqua Riverhawks in Roseburg 88-81. The Saints shot a season’s best 67 percent from the field, 32 of 50, and a season’s worst 15 percent from behind the arc (3 of 16).
Weitzel ended the contest with a double-double, including a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds in the winning effort.
Jeremy Jones and Earl Jones each scored 14 points while Nate Gepford and Garrett Strasburg piled on 10 points apiece.
The Saints will host Linn-Benton Saturday in a 6 p.m. game. The Roadrunners are in first place in the Southern Region with a half-game lead over Clackamas Community College (5-1 record in conference and 10-7 overall). The Roadrunners are led by freshman guard Taylor Roos, who averages 16.8 points per game.
Gibor said Jeremy Jones could rejoin the team as soon as Saturday against the Linn-Benton. It will be a gametime decision, as Gibor said he wants to wait until his ankle has healed and is ready to go at game speed again.
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