Men’s College Basketball: SSC rolls over Moraine Valley
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media January 18, 2014 7:44PM
Moraine Valley’s Kyle Ward (front) and South Suburban’s Jalen Brown battle for the ball Saturday. | Dennis nelson/for sun-times media
Updated: February 20, 2014 6:51AM
South Suburban coach John Pigatti was notably absent from the bench the last four games after suffering a “mini stroke” Jan. 3.
He returned to the bench and was as adamant as ever during the Bulldogs’ 66-59 non-conference win over Moraine Valley on Saturday afternoon in Harvey.
South Suburban (17-3), which is ranked No. 7 in the latest NJCAA Division II men’s basketball poll, blew an 11-point first half lead, trailed by six in the second half, only to rally to victory.
“I feel all right and I think I was calm during the game, for the most part, for me,” Pigatti said.
Moraine Valley lost its fifth game in the last six outings and fell to 5-13.
“We’ve had too many moral victories so I’m not going to call this a moral victory,” Moraine Valley coach David Howard said. “But I will say I’m very proud of my guys. We just came up short.”
Charles Knowles scored eight points early in the game while helping the hosts build a 24-13 lead. That’s when Moraine Valley’s Kyle Ward took command. The Lockport graduate scored 13 of his game-high 25 points during a 19-6 run. Ward’s free throw with 1:39 left in the first half gave the visitors a 32-30 lead.
Dominique Jeter’s basket just before the horn gave South Suburban a 33-32 lead at the break.
Tied at 38-all, the Cyclones went on a 9-3 run to take a 47-41 lead on Ward’s layup with 13:56 left in the game. However, seconds later, he picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench.
South Suburban switched to a 1-3-1 trapping defense, which seemed to spark the hosts.
“I have to give credit to coach (Pigatti) because he changed defenses and it took us too long to figure it out,” Howard said of working against the Bulldogs’ 1-3-1 zone. “We struggled to make any adjustments. If we were able to get a couple of buckets during that stretch, maybe the outcome is a little different.”
“We didn’t do a very good job of switching in our man defense,” Pigatti said. “It was a bad effort by us defensively. Our man-to-man defense wasn’t very good. We have to work on our communication. We have to do a lot better job of that.”
Trailing 53-52, South Suburban scored eight straight points to take the lead for good. Anthony Strickland had four points and an assist during the spurt that gave South Suburban a 60-53 lead with 3:22 to play. Moraine Valley was no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Twice the visitors had the ball trailing by three, but failed to score.
Thornton grad Anthony Levy made 13 of 14 from the free-throw line and led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Jalen Brown came up with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and Korbin McClain added 12 points and nine boards. Knowles was the fourth Bulldog to reach double figures with 10.
Harris tallied 20 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds for Moraine Valley.