Justin Smith’s triple-double Friday handed the Phoenix their seventh Patriot Athletic Conference win over the Brookside Cardinals.
The sophomore finished the game with 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 steals to help earn his team a 55-39 victory.
Oberlin head coach Kurt Russell said Smith had a great game but thought the team overall struggled offensively. “I thought we lost focus,” he said.
The boys jumped to an 11-2 lead after the first period before the Cardinals went on a run and outscored the Phoenix 19-11 before halftime. Brookside’s Christian Carrion led the way for his team with 24 points on the night.
Despite being outscored by eight points, Oberlin held onto a one-point lead at the end of two quarters, making it 22-21.
Russell believes his boys thought they were in for an easy win because they beat Brookside in their last meet-up.
“I really believe it was a good wake-up call for us,” Russell said. “I think they got nervous going into halftime because they could lose the game.”
The Phoenix came out with more tempo in the second half and sank 14 points to the Cardinals’ seven in the third period.
Brookside attempted to make a run in the final quarter but Oberlin allowed just 11 points and added 19 of their own.
“In the third and fourth quarters I thought we played much better,” Russell said. “I’m glad we won, but at the same time it’s a learning experience for us, especially that second quarter.”
Zion Hicks and Donald Johnson combined for 24 points to help secure their team a conference win.
The Phoenix improved to 11-4 overall and 7-3 in the PAC. Oberlin is in second place in the Stripes division behind Clearview, which is 9-1 in the conference.
Russell said he tells his players, “We cannot look ahead. We can only worry about ourselves and whatever happens to Clearview happens to them. We just have to play basketball.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @ValUrbanik on Twitter.
Photos by Randy Meyers | Oberlin News-Tribune
Zion Hicks drives and scores on a fast break as Brookside’s Noram Elias chases him.