An early deficit was costly for the Jamestown Community College Jayhawks on Saturday afternoon.
The visiting Erie CC Kats took an 11-point lead in the opening four minutes of play and retained it for most of the game. JCC managed to pull within six midway through the second half, but soon ECC was back in front by double figures and went on to win the NJCAA Region 3 Division II game by an 88-71 score.
''That was the only time that press hurt us was at the beginning of the game,'' JCC coach Mike Cordovano said. ''And that's what I told the kids at half. We only missed a couple shots and that press got us early. I told them, 'Guys, we outscored them the last 16 minutes of the half. We're fine, we just got a bad start.'''
While Emmanuel Hutchinson of Erie Community College looks for a teammate to pass to, Jamestown CC's Omar St. John, left and Brendan Bentham dive in for a tieup to force a jump ball during Saturday's NJCAA Region 3 Division II men's basketball game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
And he was right, because JCC outscored the Kats 24-20 in the last 16 minutes to trail by seven at halftime, 36-29.
But the Jayhawks couldn't outscore Erie in the second half and saw their record drop to 12-13 overall and 3-7 in Region 3 Division II.
Erie, which is ranked ninth in the nation, moves to 19-4 and 9-0.
''To win a game like this, I told the kids you have to do something special,'' Cordovano said. ''A rebound, a slide, take a charge, and that we didn't do the whole game.''
The quick start by Erie found the Kats leading 16-5 after four minutes and eight of the points were by Devon Elliott. He went on to finish the half with 14 and led the game with 30.
However, the first-half scoring leader was JCC's DeVonte Dunham with 15 points. He had 10 in the last eight minutes of the half which helped the Jayhawks cut the Erie lead at halftime to seven, 36-29.
The Kats extended their lead to 12 after 6 minutes of play in the second half. Then Kenny Stokes scored five straight points and Dunham hit a 3-pointer to pull the Jayhawks within six with 11:45 to play.
After an exchange of baskets, Isaiah Jefferson hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Erie and soon the Kats' lead moved to 15. Also helping the visitors' cause were seven points in three minutes by 6-foot-11 Tobechuckwu Okafor, who had only four points in the first half.
''I thought Brendan Bentham played pretty (well) for a kid way oversized (6-4) against a seven-footer,'' Cordovano said. ''I'm not faulting our post players for the big kid getting 16. We didn't defend the pass into the high post. We let the ball get into the high post. When you play against a big center and you let the ball into the high post, you're going to be in trouble.''
JCC had a last gasp when Calvin Sterling and Tyreek Jewell hit back-to-back 3s to cut the Erie lead to 72-63 with 2:30 left to play. Then the Jayhawks tried to turn on the pressure without success and the Kats moved their lead back to double figures.
''We battled, we were down nine with 2:30,'' Cordovano said. ''We tried to press, but I just have to get more out of this team down the stretch.''
He got that on Thursday in win over Genesee with a 16-0 finish in the last five minutes.
Jewell led JCC with 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Dunham had 21 points.
JCC plays again on Tuesday at Niagara County CC in a Region 3 Division II game at 7:30 p.m.
Young 1 0-0 3, Jefferson 4 2-4 12, Briggs 3 5-6 13, Ball 1 0-0 3, Elliott 10 8-10 30, Okafor 4 8-11 16, Sulaimen 0 0-2 0, Hutcherson 2 0-0 4, Sumlin 3 1-1 7, Totals 28 24-34 88.
Dunham 8 3-4 21, St. John 3 0-0 6, Newell 0 0-0 0, Jewell 93-5 23, Forrest 1 2-2 4, Bentham 2 0-1 6, Stokes 1 3-5 5, Sterling 2 0-0 6, Totals 27 11-16 71.
Halftime-Erie 36, JCC 29. 3-point goals-Young, Jefferson 2, Briggs 2, Ball, Elliott, Dunham 2, Jewell 2, Sterling 2. Total fouls-Erie 12, JCC 20. Fouled out-Dunham. Technical-Dunham.