By Matthew Peirson and Nicholas Corey
Despite Keishaun Sinclair, Marcelas Perry, and Jericho Avery scoring in double figures, American River College’s men’s basketball team lost 78-67 against Foothill College Wednesday night, falling short after holding a 10 point lead in the first half as Foothill cashed in on ARC’s turnover-filled late second half performance to come away with a victory.
“That’s all we went over the last two days of practice. It feels like we wasted those last two days,” said ARC head coach Mark Giorgi on the lack of execution in the second half.
Assistant coach Bill Benford pleaded with his team from the bench on several occasions to talk on defense throughout the game, specifically calling out at center Eugene Crockett to start the conversation.
“It wasn’t just him,” Benford said of Crockett after the game. “Effort and consistency (for the team) is what the game goes back to for me.”
“I would say mental fatigue,” said Crockett on the team defense.
Forward Austin Lobo agreed with his coach.
“It just happens,” he said on the team’s defensive play. “And that was really our downfall at the end of the day, we just didn’t play well defensively.”
Trailing 70-64 with less than three minutes to play, ARC ran out on the fastbreak following a blocked shot by Avery.
Perry and Lobo led the break, but the possession ended in a turnover as Perry threw the ball out of bounds with Lobo’s head turned a different direction.
“I did not see the pass,” Lobo said. “He’s looking to move the ball up, I’m looking for a good possession.”
“Not necessarily a miscommunication between words, but between mentalities,” added Lobo on the play.
“I looked at him for a glance and that’s a shot he makes eight out of 10 times. He looked away for one moment, and that killed our momentum,” said Perry of the play.
Foothill guard JJ Espanola nailed a 3-pointer on the following play, giving Foothill a 73-64 lead with 1:13 left in the game.
Avery, a trailer on the play following blocking the shot, said “By the time I had turned (my) back around, we were on defense again.”
ARC looked energized and ready to play at the start of the game, going on a 17-7 run to start the game.
Foothill’s first lead came off a putback after an attempted 3-point shot at around the six minute mark of first half.
A failed free throw by Perry on a 3-point play opportunity could’ve tied the game at 33 at the end of the first half, but instead Foothill led 33-32 at halftime following Perry’s miss.
“(Giorgi) kept telling us to not let them in the back door,” Avery said. “They just had the hot hand tonight.”
It was a back and forth contest until about six minutes left in the second half. Back-to-back ARC turnovers resulted in Foothill gaining a 65-59 lead, and the team never looked back.
ARC largely relied on 3-point shot attempts in the final two minutes to attempt cuttings its deficit, but the shots never started falling.
“I don’t think we got enough ball movement at the end,” said guard Jarvis Watkins. “We were just trying to get a bucket.”
Guard Chris Mullin said he felt the team was scattered late in the second period.
“(We) acted like we needed to go bucket for bucket instead of running over plays and having a better chance at executing,” he said.
Shortly after the final buzzer, Lobo threw his headband down in disgust.
“We do that a lot get up early and our guys think the games over. (Foothill) slipped screens for lay-ups, (we’re) not going to be able to fix that in one game,” said Giorgi on areas to improve upon for next season.
For the sophomores, like Crockett, the season ends their time on ARC’s team.
“This was the last time I was playing for my brothers,” he said. “I have lifetime friendships on this team for the rest of my life.”