The American River College Men’s Basketball team took on Big 8 rival Diablo Valley College Tuesday Jan. 29 in what proved to be a trying test and timely learning experience. The Beavers allowed the Knights to cut their 21-point first half lead down to four before closing out the game on a nine-to-one run.
Coming into tonight on a 5-game losing streak the Beavers were looking to generate some momentum going into the second half of conference play. Assistant coach Bill Benford, who filled in at head coach in for Mark Giorgi’s absence had a detailed scouting report on Diablo Valley’s offense that enabled the Beavers to dictate the pace early on.
“We knew that they were going to run a play that they call ‘stack’ and try to get a mismatch involved with our guys,” Benford said shortly after the victory. “Our game plan was to drop into a zone to elevate that mismatch, that’s what allowed us to get the lead.”
The focus and execution that was used to build a 31-to-10 advantage early on seemed to wane in the final five minutes of the first half. Turnovers and poor free-throw shooting on the Beaver’s end helped Diablo Valley cut the lead to 13 by halftime.
The slide continued in the second half as Diablo Valley finished off an 11-to-0 run with 9:04 left to play, cutting the lead to single-digits for the first time since early in the game. Diablo Valley Guard Mike Harris, who led the Knights with 16 points, scored five straight points cutting the lead to four.
Beaver guard Mardell Thompson, who led all scorers with 17 points scored on back-to-back possessions to put the game out of reach with just under 3 minutes left. Diablo Valley resorted to hacking but the Beavers held on to clinch a 70-to-58 victory.
“They kind of were playing not to lose instead of playing to win, and it just resulted in some bad plays at times” Benford said. “But being in this situation is only going to help us down the road.”
Haysbert offered a similar outlook when asked about the victory.
“Towards the end we changed it up and started playing to win,” Haysbert said. “Hopefully that (experience) will help us get more wins.”