COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — The Cloud County Community College men's basketball team fell just shy of an undefeated showing at the Hampton Inn Reiver Classic and instead had to settle for a 1-1 weekend after suffering its first loss of the season on Saturday to Des Moines Area Community College.
The culprit in Saturday's 85-82 defeat was perimeter shooting as the T-Birds (4-1 overall) were 5-of-29 (17 percent) from the 3-point line.
"Des Moines had an excellent game plan," said Cloud County head coach, Jordan Altman. "I thought we were ready for it. They really slowed us down, didn't send anyone to the offensive glass and instead got back to limit our transition and forced us to shoot it in the half-court. Unfortunately, we had a tough night and didn't hit many perimeter shots."
The T-Birds held a seven-point lead briefly in the first half with 8:16 remaining but went into the halftime locker rooms down 40-38.
They inched back within a point late at 81-80 following a layup from redshirt freshman Nysir Scott with 48 seconds remaining, and then again at 83-82 with 20 seconds remaining on a basket by redshirt sophomore Alvin Thompson.
Unfortunately for the T-Birds, DMACC (4-1 overall) nailed all four of its free throws in the final minute to hold on for the 85-82 final.
The loss was a minor setback for a Cloud County team that hung 125 points on a school-record 71.8 percent field goal shooting in Friday's 125-68 victory over Dakota College at Bottineau.
The T-Birds had success when they attacked the rim Saturday, shooting 61 percent (22-of-36) on two-point field goal opportunities while getting to the free-throw line 27 times (23-of-27, 85%).
Thompson shined in the defeat, finishing with a career-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He was 8-of-9 at the free-throw line and added six rebounds in his 31 minutes off the bench.
"Alvin did a really good job slicing up the defense and finding gaps in the zone," Altman said. "We just had too many guys settle for the outside shot, but we're going to have to figure out how to get some of these outside shots to fall."
The T-Birds will look to return to their winning ways next weekend at the McCook Classic, starting with a 6 p.m. matchup on Friday against the tournament hosts, McCook Community College.
"It's always interesting to see how a team responds after facing a little adversity," Altman said. "We're in a much different spot than we were last year. I thought (Saturday), other than hitting shots, we did everything we could and DMACC played a great game. Hopefully we respond and head out to McCook with a little more energy and confidence to compete against teams at our level."