One thing was certain between the varsity Fighting Scots and E.E. Smith Wednesday night: either Scotland or the Golden Bulls would emerge with their first victory of the season. Both squads have limped to winless records in December, and each needed a win in the worst way to potentially spark a turnaround to end the 2012 calendar year.
And at least in the opening minutes, the Scots kept things close with E.E. Smith and appeared improved on both ends of the court.
But in a two-minute span that opened the second half of regulation, Scotland fell apart at the seams as the Golden Bulls created turnover after turnover and capitalized offensively. The final score was 74-35, and after the game head coach Jackie Amos questioned his team’s competitive desire.
“It was a good old-fashioned butt whipping, that’s for sure,” Amos said. “If this team is going to get better, we’re going to have to play with more heart, more conviction and more guts.”
Right from the start, it was apparent that the Golden Bulls had the height and size advantage over Scotland, demonstrated by 6’1” sophomore guard Eric Murphy who scored seven of his 17 game points to set the tone in the opening minutes. The Golden Bulls have seven players over the height of 6’2” on their active roster.
Even though E.E. Smith did its best to dominate the paint, Scotland senior center Aly Kaba held his own in the interior by scoring 7 of the Scots’ 11 first-quarter points with most of those coming on second-chance attempts as he powered his way to offensive rebounds. Scotland ended the quarter down 17-11 to E.E. Smith.
If there was ever an opportunity for Scotland to take a commanding lead this season, it came in the second quarter against an E.E. Smith team that didn’t record its first basket until the 2:30 mark in the quarter. The Scots opened the quarter on a 7-0 to take their first lead of the game, led by Darius Jones and Trejon Monley. Scotland’s best play of the game also came in the second quarter, as Monley rose to meet the much-taller Shawn Barnes Jr. (who stands 6’4”) at the basket as the sophomore forward attempted a lay-up. Monley would swat away the shot which drew cheers from the Scotland fans in attendance for the home game.
However, the Golden Bulls regained the lead in the waning moments of the quarter, scoring six of their eight quarter points in the final 90 seconds to end the half nursing a five-point lead over the Scots.
And then the second half began, which saw the Fighting Scots surrender 27 points in the third quarter alone en route to the eventual rout. The Fighting Scots scored just 15 points in the second half.
“We came out and allowed four straight turnovers, all of which they turned into points, so I called a timeout to settle my team down,” said Amos, whose team opened the second half by allowing E.E. Smith to vault out to a 12-2 run. “But there’s only so many timeouts I can call, and when you can’t make your shots it just halts everything else from working. We simply didn’t execute.”