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Men's Basketball

Catonsville rallies to hand Skipjacks first loss
Previously undefeated Chesapeake lets 16-point lead slip away

CATONSVILLE, December 7 – Dale Becraft expects his Skipjacks to learn from Wednesday night’s 88-79 overtime loss at Community College Baltimore County-Catonsville.

While that may well be the case, it will be a costly lesson.

Chesapeake College built a 16-point, second-half lead in Wednesday’s game, and had a 10-point cushion with less than four minutes to play. The Cardinals, however, rallied behind Randy Allen’s three-pointers and Kevin Palmer’s overtime free-throw shooting to saddle the Skipjacks with their first loss of the season.

"We let them hang around. We’ll learn from that," said Becraft, whose team fell to 2-1 in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference and 4-1 overall. "We just couldn’t close them out. They hit some big shots and we didn’t answer."

Allen had six three-pointers among his 24 points, including three consecutive treys in the final four minutes to trim a 10-point deficit to a single point. Palmer, who scored a game-high 26 points, then took over. The Cardinals’ point guard went 7-for-10 at the foul line in the extra period seal the win.

Becraft cited three causes for the loss – the Skipjacks’ inability to rebound, protect the basketball or get to the free-throw line. The Cardinals had 18 more rebounds and 19 more free-throw attempts (29-10) while Chesapeake committed 22 turnovers.

"Either we weren’t aggressive enough going inside or we weren’t getting the calls when we went in there," said Becraft, whose team came into the game averaging 28 free-throw attempts. "I think it was a little of both."

The Skipjacks built a 39-29 halftime advantage, then stretched the lead to 16 points with 12 minutes remaining. It was still a double-digit lead until Allen began his late, three-point barrage.

"The first two (of Allen’s three consecutive three-pointers) we just didn’t aggressively fight over the screens to get to the shooter," said Becraft. "The last one, Will Mills was just hanging on him (Allen). I didn’t think that had a prayer of going in, but it did."

Catonsville actually rallied to take a three-point lead, but Mills (18 points) hit a three-pointer to force the extra period. Catonsville, however, dominated the overtime with its free-throw shooting down the stretch.

Rob Lowery scored a game-high 27 points for the Skipjacks. Mike Nichols and Joe Fletcher just missed joining Lowery and Mills in double figures as each finished with eight points.

As in any close game, Becraft could point to several factors that could have made a difference. His team’s free-throw shooting was at the top of the list.

"The reason why we didn’t close it out was we were only 4-of-10 from the foul line in regulation," said Becraft. "You hit 50 percent, you win in regulation."

The Skipjacks will play three games this weekend in the Ben Williams Classic in Baltimore. Chesapeake takes on CCBC-Essex on Friday, Gateway (CN) Community College on Saturday, and Baltimore City Community College on Sunday, with each game starting at 4 p.m.

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