Chesapeake turns up the pressure to top Owls
Skipjacks shake off sloppy first half to improve to 2-0
WYE MILLS, November 10 -- The Skipjacks turned up the pressure on visiting Harford Community College Thursday night, using their full-court press to overcome the visiting Owls, 76-69.
"We worked hard on the pressure – getting turnovers, shaking the other team up, and getting ourselves open shots," said Will Mills, who scored a team-high 17 points as the Skipjacks improved to 2-0.
Harford led virtually the entire first half, building nine-point cushions on three separate occasions before taking a 39-37 lead at the break when Terrance Allen (game-high 23 points) hit a layup right before the halftime buzzer. The Skipjacks, however, opened the second half with a 12-2 run built on their full-court press to take the lead for good. Four different Skipjacks scored during the spurt, which Mills finished with consecutive layups to give Chesapeake a 49-41 advantage.
"We talked about playing hard, playing a lot of defense to get back in the game," said sophomore captain Keith Smothers, who joined Mills in double figures with 12 points. "Our pressure defense gets other teams moving fast and gets them out of control."
Melvin Smith, making his debut as Harford´s head coach, complimented the Skipjacks´ pressure defense while lamenting the Owls´ inability to take advantage when they broke it.
"I think what hurt us is we just didn´t capitalize on our transition offense after we did break the press," said Smith. "But you have to hand it to their coaches – they kept the pressure on us the whole game."
For his part, Chesapeake head coach Dale Becraft thought the Skipjacks´ press broke down much too frequently during a sloppy first half in which the Owls had several breakaways against the full-court pressure.
"We didn´t do a good job of rotating on the back end of the press," said Becraft, who was also displeased with his team´s 16 turnovers despite very little pressure defense from the Owls. "We´ve got the fix that rotation problem and play with a lot more intensity. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they´re virtually all freshmen and it´s going to take some time."
While Chesapeake took the lead for good with its 12-2 run at the start of the second half, the Owls refused to go away quietly. Harford twice pulled within a point, the last time on a Brian Selby jumper that made it 55-54, and the Owls were still within 65-63 after Ryan Deveaux sank a pair of free throws with 3:05 remaining.
Chesapeake, however, answered with a 6-0 run to seal the win. Mills banked home a tough, baseline jumper to start the spurt and turned a pass from Jamarl Glen into a three-point play to end it.
"This was Will´s best game so far, including all of our scrimmages," said Becraft of Mills, a highly recruited forward from Pocomoke High School. "He, as much as anyone, was the key for us tonight."
While only Mills and Smothers reached double figures for Chesapeake, 10 Skipjacks found their way into the scoring column. Jimmy Mosser scored nine points – including a rare, four-point play – while Chris Brown (six rebounds, three steals) and Mike Nichols scored eight apiece and Rob Lowery (10 assists, five steals, four turnovers) added seven.
Selby (15 points), Rich Johnson (11) and Deveaux (10) joined Allen in double figures for the Owls.
The Skipjacks are off until a week from Monday, when they host Baltimore City Community College in a 7 p.m. contest.
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