Season-high turnovers result in defeat

As the snow fell on Seattle and the temperatures grew cold, so did the Seattle Pacific men’s basketball team’s shooting and offense. After a five-game winning streak, the Falcons fell to Montana State Billings on Saturday night by a score of 86-77.

Coming off a pair of road wins at Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene, the Falcons were ranked 24th in the Division II national poll, and they appeared to have the edge over their middle-tier Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent.

However, Billings took control from the start, as it capitalized on SPU’s 35 percent shooting in the first half to capture a 34-26 halftime lead.

Both teams stepped it up offensively in the second half, and the Yellowjackets tallied an additional 52 points to secure the highest point total for an SPU opponent this season. Going into the game, the Falcons had the second best defense in the nation, holding other teams to 55.9 points a game on average.

Head coach Ryan Looney said the reason for the defensive letdown was “poor effort and attention to the scouting report.”

SPU’s biggest downfall came in the form of ball control, as the team committed a season-high 24 turnovers. The Falcons set another negative season mark in the game, building up a 15-point deficit on three separate occasions.

“We need better point-guard play,” Looney said. “[We] need our guys in that position to understand the importance of running the team.”

The closest the team came to coming back was with 44 seconds left, as the Falcons pulled within three, at 80-77. Billings cemented its victory by scoring the next six points, most of them from the free-throw line as SPU was forced to intentionally foul.

Junior wing Jobi Wall and redshirt freshman post Cory Hutsen led the Falcons with 14 and 13 points, respectively, all coming in the second half.

“[Wall and Hutsen] have been very important,” Looney said. “They have been our two most consistent players lately. We know what we are going to get from them each day.”

Junior post Andy Poling and sophomore point guard David Downs were both benched early in the second half, as Looney realized they were unable to find their groove.

“Dave and Andy were struggling,” Looney said. “Other players gave us a better chance to be successful.”

Downs came out with seven points on 1-of-3 shooting, while Poling went 3-for-10 to finish with eight points. Sophomore Riley Carel took over the point and showed promise, as he put up seven points and limited the team’s turnovers.

The Falcons return to their home court this week, with the annual Homecoming game on Saturday night. They take on Saint Martin’s tomorrow before going up against second-place GNAC team Western Oregon on Saturday.

Looney said the keys for getting wins this weekend are “discipline and consistency.”

“Those two things have been hard for our young guys,” he said.

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Title: Season-high turnovers result in defeat | Author: Jon Heddles | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2012-01-25 | Internal ID: 7968