A second half drought Friday cost Oberlin a Patriot Athletic Conference game against Buckeye.
The Bucks scored 25 points and the Phoenix had 16 in the final two periods netted Buckeye a 46-42 victory.
Oberlin started the game exactly how head coach Kurt Russell wanted his boys to: high pressure defense, fast tempo, and quick transitions.
The Phoenix boys jumped to an early six-point run led by junior Caleb Hughley, then went on a seven-point run at the end of the first quarter to secure a 17-5 lead.
Buckeye did not back down and started the second period on fire with a six-point run. The Bucks were able to cut the Phoenix lead down to two with less than three minutes to go before halftime.
Oberlin’s David Payne sank a three-pointer to extend his team’s lead to 26-21 at halftime.
An energized Buckeye team caught Oberlin off-guard at the start of the second half, forcing passes and turnovers.
It was a back-and-forth battle in the third quarter — Oberlin’s Justin Smith sank a layup as time ran out to tie the game at 37.
Then came the slowdown. The Phoenix struggled to make a single shot in the final period.
Smith and Hughley were the only two Oberlin players to make a basket in the fourth as the Bucks added nine points. Hughley led the team with 14 points on the night and Donald Johnson had 10 rebounds.
“We played poorly at the end,” Russell said. “It was one of those games where we did things we don’t usually do.”
His boys tried a couple times to bounce the ball off Buckeye defenders when in-bounding because they could not find an open player. “We were trying to be a little too cute,” Russell said. “It got to us.”
“I think the key is we tried to do things we don’t do and when we do things we don’t do it catches up to you,” he said. “We need to get back to the drawing board and get back to the fundamentals.”
Oberlin fell to 6-3 in the PAC and 9-4 overall.
The Phoenix defeated the Lutheran West Longhorns 75-56 last Tuesday with Hughley, Smith, and Donald Johnson combining for 43 points on the night.
The team had nine players score at least three points in the victory.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Phoenix head coach Kurt Russell talks to his starting five players before tip-off against the Buckeye Bucks.