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AWC men's comeback comes short against North Idaho
The poor shooting and turnovers that plagued the Arizona Western basketball team in the first half seemed to stay in the locker room in the second half.
They picked the worst time to return.
The Matadors went 4 minutes, 22 seconds without a field goal in the second half after shooting 31.6 percent in the first half in an 86-81 loss Friday to No. 24 North Idaho in the ‘12 Desert Classic.
“I thought we did some things a little better in the second half, but we were so far behind in the first half it didn't seem to matter,” AWC coach Charles Harral said. “I can't really seem to put my finger on just exactly what cost us. But I would say basically the game of basketball cost us tonight.”
The Matadors (1-1) trailed by as much as 22 in the first half. The lead for the Cardinals shrunk to 69-67 with 6:27 left, but that's when the second Matador shooting slump set in. They ended up shooting worse in the second half and finished the game at 28.4 percent.
The loss came a day after a 93-61 win against Eastern Utah, a game the Matadors shot red hot throughout the contest.
“All the shots we made last night (we missed Friday),” Harral said. “I talked about over confidence. We thought we were really good shooters, and you can't take that kind of stuff for granted. We didn't finish around the basket. They were the more aggressive team, and any time you play against the more aggressive team you get beat.”
Despite the shooting woes, the defense kept the game manageable late, and a 3-point play by Aaseem Dixon with 2:04 left cut the Cardinal lead to 75-69. But the Matadors never got closer than six and did not make a field goal until Marvin Whitt hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The defense played a big role in making the game close — the Cardinals were shooting 69 percent early in the first half before cooling off. They shot just 28.6 percent in the second half and 41.3 for the game.
“I just think we played harder in the second half; I don't think there was much adjusting,” Harral said. “We were going underneath some ball screens instead of over the top, but I think most of it was our effort was a little bit better in the second half than the first.”
Darien Walker led AWC with 23 points, Whitt added 17, though the duo shot a combined 9 for 30. Aaseem Dixon had 15 for the Matadors.