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Men’s College Basketball: Prairie State comes undone in loss to Black Hawk East

Prairie State's Joe Hughes looks for shot against Black Hawk East. | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media

Prairie State's Joe Hughes looks for a shot against Black Hawk East. | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 27, 2014 10:45PM



Prairie State failed to land the knockout punch against Black Hawk East in a Region IV Tournament game Thursday night in Chicago Heights.

The Pioneers squandered a 16-point lead with less than 16 minutes to play during a 61-59 loss. Prairie State closed at 15-17. Black Hawk East (14-17) advanced to the Region IV semifinals Saturday at Illinois Valley Community College in downstate Oglesby.

After both teams turned the ball over during the final 21 seconds, the Pioneers had a chance to tie or take the lead. However, Miles Nettles blocked Rodney Smith’s layup attempt during the final seconds.

Prairie State built a 39-23 lead with 15:22 left in the game, but turned the ball over nine times in the second half. Black Hawk East made 7-of-12 from three-point range in the second half.

“You have to play 40 minutes,” Prairie State coach Mike Manderino said. “We didn’t play 40 minutes. We didn’t guard the way we did in the first half. Our defense lapsed and we didn’t play well enough defensively.”

“We had games like this at the beginning of the season,” Prairie State sophomore Joe Hughes said. “We kept stressing we need to play 40 minutes. It’s frustrating.”

Two free throws by Hughes gave the Pioneers a 19-13 lead with 6:48 left in the first half. Smith’s driving layup capped an 8-2 spurt and gave the hosts a 27-18 lead with 1:21 left in the half. Adrian Jeffries’ jumper just before the horn allowed the Pioneers to take a 29-20 lead into the locker room. The Pioneers defense forced eight turnovers and held the Warriors to 30 percent (8-of-27) shooting.

Hughes’ layup pushed the advantage to 35-22 with 16:58 left in the game.

A baseline jumper by Hughes and Jeffries’ basket extended the Pioneers’ lead to 39-23 with 15:22 to go. The Warriors drew to within 47-41 on Nicklaus Driskell’s driving layup at 9:11.

Phillip Holmes’ three-point play shaved it to 50-47 with 6:20 left. Stephane Mamady’s three-point play gave the Warriors a 53-52 lead with 4:50 remaining.

Prairie State scored the next six points, four by Jeffries and a banker by Hughes, to reclaim a 58-53 lead with 2:29 left. The Warriors scored the next eight points.

Torrence Evans’ three-pointer at 1:40 tied it at 58. Seconds later, Evans again found a three, staking Black Hawk East to a 61-58 lead with 1:19 remaining. Prairie State had a chance to tie or take the lead twice from there.

“We came off their shooters too many times,” Manderino said. “They tie the game and we turned it over. We went up three to down three in 10 seconds. You have to have a little more poise than that.”

“Mentally, we weren’t strong enough,” Hughes said. “It’s tough and it hurts. I really thought we were going to win.”

Hughes led the hosts with 26 points to go along with seven rebounds. Jeffries added 17 points and six boards. Nettles had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Warriors in both categories.

“Offensively, we got out of our stuff instead of trusting each other,” Manderino said. “We had too many individuals trying to make plays instead of staying in the structure of what we’re trying to do offensively.”



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