Posted 3 months ago
By John Axtell
The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team saw Brandon Morley and Youssoupha Kane each finish with a double-double as the Cougar men moved to 8-6 on the season with an 82-69 south sub-region win over Otero Junior College Friday evening at Cougar Palace.
Morley led all scorers with 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Kane finished with 12 points and 12 boards.
Two other big keys in the game was rebounding and free throw shooting. WNCC out-rebounded the Rattlers 58-34. The Cougars also converted 33 of 41 free throws to just 15 of 17 for Otero.
“We came out and played a little zone early and protected the paint,” WNCC coach Russ Beck said. “The key to the game was rebounding and hitting free throws, two fundamental things. We had to make sure we were boxing out and I was proud of the guys. We talked about making sure we won all the battles to win the war in winning the little things. I felt we won enough little things to win the war.”
The Cougars inside game was a huge reason why as the Cougars only converted 3 of 14 3-pointers. Then, again, with the way Morley and Kane were dominating play inside that was the big reason for the win.
“Our bigs [inside players] have been playing well,” Beck said. “It is a compliment the way we shoot the ball when we have an inside outside game like that.”
Morley was a force all game, scoring 15 of his 28 points in the first half. In the second half, the seven-footer from Utah made just three field goals, but connected on seven free throws. For the game, Morley was 10 of 14 from the stripe.
Kane had just four points at intermission, but ignited for eight points in the second half, including an offensive rebound jam that ignited the crowd.
Early on, though, Otero had the momentum running to a 21-14 lead with nine minutes to play in the first half. WNCC’s Austin Clark changed the momentum as he drained a 3-pointer and the Cougars went on a 16-4 run to hold a 30-25 lead as Morley and Diante Mitchell erupted for 11 of the points.
Otero would come back to tie the game at 34-34before Julio Guity hit two free throws to give the Cougars a 2-point halftime lead at 36-34.
WNCC came out of the locker room on a tear, bolting to a 43-34 lead. Otero sliced the lead to 47-44 but the Cougars would push the lead back to double digits at 60-48 on two Joel Einfeldt free throws.
The Rattlers cut the lead to four points, 70-66 with three minutes to play on a 3-pointer by Shun Williams. WNCC came right back to push the lead to 10, 76-66 and finished off the win hitting 10 of 10 free throws.
WNCC shot 35 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line, while Otero was 35 percent from the field and 21 percent from behind the art.
The Cougars had three players finish in double figures. Besides Kane and Morley, Mitchell pitched in 22 points and seven rebounds. Einfeldt added eight points, all from the free throw line.
WNCC will finish off the first semester today when they host Trinidad State Junior College at 4 p.m. Trinidad defeated Eastern Wyoming College 92-84 Friday night.
Otero 34 35 – 69
WNCC 36 46 – 82
Chris Golden 18, Jalen Little 13, Nick Ongarato 3, Renato Torres 2, Lamine Mbodj 12, Branden Cosby-Lee 2, Derek Hillyer 12, Shun Williams 7.
Tyler Crosbie 2, Youssoupha Kane 12, Diante Mitchell 22, Joel Einfeldt 8, Derrick Bowers 3, Brandon Morley 28, Austin Clark 5, Julio Guity 2.