Utica – When Tompkins-Cortland Community College grabbed an 11-0 lead to start Saturday’s women’s basketball game, it would have been the perfect time for Mohawk Valley Community College to panic. The hosts did anything but as they rolled to a 93-55 victory.
An hour later the MVCC men started similarly but rallied for a 83-59 win that capped a perfect day for the Hawks.
“I told them afterward that hasn’t happened,” MVCC womens coach Jason Carpenter said. “Nobody’s come out and put 11 on us. (We) did respond.”
MVCC mens coach Matt St. Croix had a similar reaction after his team fell behind 6-2 to the 1-10 Panthers before taking a slim lead at the half.
“We just didn’t finish plays,” the seventh-year head coach said after his Hawks improved to 6-4. “At halftime we told them to remain focused.”
Both MVCC teams did, but in different fashion.
Thanks to Lillybeth Garcia’s play off the bench, Africa Williams’ shooting and defense that was unrelenting, the MVCC women rallied for a 42-29 lead by halftime and went on to post a dominating victory. The win improved Coach Jason Carpenter’s No. 3 nationally ranked team to (11-1) for the 2015-16 season.
“They can overcome,” Carpenter said afterward. “I wanted them to do it on their own.”
The Panthers entered the contest as decided underdogs, thanks to a pregame (5-4) record. But Jessica Cafferty, Kyla Anding, Rickeya Atkinson and Taniqua Johnson sandwiched field goals around a 3-pointer by Victoria Mattarell and the school from Dryden had MVCC in a hole.
Coach David Sevenson’s team was as loud on the sideline as on the court and all the momentum was with the Panthers until a lengthy delay over a discrepancy in the scorebook helped the hosts regroup. And regroup the Hawks did as Williams started her team’s scoring with a steal and a layup with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
“I thought the first quarter was really good for us,” TCCC coach David Sevenson said of his team’s 20-15 edge. “Then they got us hectic and stressed a bit. I’ve got a young squad that has got to get mentally tougher. When we can we’ll be pretty good.”
Cheyenne Clark’s play helped the Hawks go on a 15-2 run to start the second quarter then Chelsea Gibson, Adrienne Graves, Sasha Patterson and Williams sparked an 11-1 run near the end of the half that helped the hosts take a double digit lead.
The teams traded baskets to begin the third quarter then Clark, Linda Galay, Courtney Irabor and Patterson took over the scoring for a while to help MVCC put the game out of reach. Williams spearheaded the defensive effort during that stretch and wound up leading the team with 15 points. Clark added 14, Patterson had 13, Garcia scored 12 and Gibson and Graves had 11 apiece to lead one of the most balanced efforts of the season for Carpenter’s team.
“They’re a very good squad, and well coached,” Sevenson said of MVCC. “They’re No. (3) in the nation and strong year in and year out for a reason.”
Atkinson led TCCC with 12 points.
In the second game, Malik Starkes had a 3-pointer to help TCCC build upon its fast start but Trevis Wigfall followed with one for the hosts and Creig Goldson’s fast break dunk seconds later gave MVCC its first lead at 11-9. Devonte Wilson and Wigfall then scored to help the hosts stretch their lead but Kevin Williams and Starks led a surge for TCCC that made it a one-point game again and minutes later Tohn Johnson made a foul shot to tie the game 26-26 for the visitors. Kyron Allen then got into the act for the hosts with a baseline drive for two points and Janeel Frith’s layup after a rebound gave MVCC a lead it never lost again.
“The first half was anybody’s game,” TCCC coach Rich Echevarria said. “The main thing is to teach this young team to stay disciplined offensively and defensively.”
The Panthers could not handle the hosts’ great start in the second half, and that proved key. Superb passing by Goldson and Junior Bellagarde set up baskets and Rome native Aaron Tennant teamed up with Ronnie Williams for some assists and scores to help push the lead from 55-39 to 62-42 later in the half and the Hawks cruised from there to the win.
“Defensively it was one of our better games,” MVCC coach Matt St. Croix said.
Allen had 16 points, Wilson and Wigfall had 15 and Frith had 13 pace the hosts on offense while Williams had 23 to lead TCCC.
TCCC 20 9 15 11 – 55
MVCC 15 27 33 18 – 93
TCCC (5-5): Kyla Anding 4, Stephanie De’Costa 8, Rickeya Atkinson 12, Vanessa Covert 1, Victoria Mattarell 3, Brittany Randall 5, LeAnne Haitian 1, Jessica Cafferty 10, Taniqua Johnson 4, Delaney Kerr 7.
MVCC (11-1): Linda Galay 1, Chelsea Gibson 11, Sasha Patterson 13, Lillybeth Garcia 12, Laquasia Berry 2, Chyna Nicholas 2, Africa Williams 15, Cheyenne Clark 14, Adrienne Graves 11, Courtney Irabor 7.
TCCC 35 24 – 59
MVCC 44 39 – 83
TCCC (1-10): Malik Starks 18, Jaleel Collins 2, Donoven Adams 2, Chance Dunton 1, Denzel Bush 3, Gavin Regular 3, Gerard Dike II 2, Kevin Williams 23, Tohn Johnson 3, Williams More 2.
MVCC (6-4): Devonte Wilson 15, Trevis Wigfall 15, Janeel Frith 13, Creig Goldson 5, Ronnie Williams 6, Junior Bellagarde 4, Aaron Tennant 5, Kyron Allen 16.