The American River College Beavers dropped to .500 against Big 8 Conference opponents after a 79-61 road defeat against Sierra College Friday night, in which two Sierra players combined for 51 points and 22 rebounds.
Sierra forward Isaiah Piniero heard his name frequently over the speakers during the game, dropping 30 points on ARC’s defense with a combination of athleticism and savvy post play. Sierra guard Antonio Lewis added 21, shooting 3-5 on 3-point attempts.
ARC head coach Mark Giorgi attributed Sierra’s offensive outburst to his team’s lack of mental fortitude.
“Tuesday night we played a much better team and we shut them down. Defense shows a lot of how much heart you have as a person and how mentally tough you are, and we’re just not mentally tough,” said Giorgi.
At the midway point of the first half, ARC was tied with Sierra 14-14. Sierra then went on a tear for the rest of the half, at one point leading by 18 and finishing the first half ahead 36-24.
ARC never closed the gap to less than 10 for the rest of the game, and Sierra cruised to a victory.
The first half struggles mainly came from a large number of missed layups and open shots by ARC, including from team leading scorer and sophomore guard Jarvis Watkins, who Giorgi has described in the past as the hardest worker on the team.
ARC sophomore forward Keishaun Sinclair led with 19 points, relentlessly attacking the basket. After the game, Sinclair said that the game’s lopsided score came down to Sierra making shot after shot while ARC missed several open looks.
“We couldn’t get anything going in the first half, and they just converted on everything,” said Sinclair, one of four ARC four players with double-digit scoring averages.
Giorgi complimented Sinclair’s growth as a player from last year, saying Sinclair is now “ten times better than he was last year.”
“Last year he was a good player, but every time he got fouled and it didn’t get called, he’d quit playing,” said Giorgi.
In the second half, ARC sophomore center Eugene Crockett received a technical foul after ARC was called for a succession of fouls. Crockett was pulled from the game by Giorgi and did not come back in.
Giorgi said he was told by the referee who made the call that Crockett complained about the penalties, was warned to stop, and continued to complain, at which point he was called for the technical.
ARC’s next game is at home on Tuesday, Jan. 27 against San Joaquin Delta College at 5:30 p.m.