HCC misses chance to beat Mitchell

January 04, 2004|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

A good basketball team usually doesn't make many mistakes, but the Hagerstown Community College women were given plenty of opportunities in their 64-61 loss to the Mitchell Pequots Saturday night at HCC's athletic complex.

With all the wins Hawks coach Marlys Palmer has on her resume, Mitchell has eluded becoming a member of that list.

In fact, the Hawks blew a 13-point lead with 13 minutes to go, frustrating Palmer into calling several timeouts, one in which she questioned her team's focus on the floor.

Unfortunately for HCC (7-4, 2-2), it was never quite able to recover.

Mitchell tied the game at 59-59 with just under 1:30 left. A pair of free throws by HCC's Eariel Gholson put HCC up 61-59, but a banked 3-pointer by Mitchell's April Stevenson with 19 seconds left forced Hagerstown to foul.


Mitchell sent Gina Derosier to line and she cooly dropped in a pair to ice the game.

"It was gut-check time for us," Mitchell coach Glenn Senecal said. "This is a veteran team who won this one down the stretch."

But Palmer pointed to a time earlier in the half when Mitchell took advantage of some Hawks confusion on the floor.

"I had to call those timeouts to get us organized," Palmer said. "We were running things out there I've never seen in practice."

"We have never beaten Mitchell and we had them tonight," she said. "But they got us because we played out of our game."

The Hawks, inactive for more than three weeks over the holidays, simply appeared out of sync the majority of the evening. Suffering from several sprained ankles, the flu and recurrent foul trouble, HCC seemingly struggled to keep five healthy players in the game.

"It has been a struggle," Palmer said. "The effort is always there, but we struggled."

But HCC played solidly if not consistently throughout the first half, using the speed of Gholson, Veronica Johnson and Dee Brown to outrun the Pequots and take a 34-25 lead. The trio accounted for 43 points with Gholson having a game-high 18.

But the fouls were mounting dangerously on the Hawks and when it came to crunch time in the second half, Palmer was handcuffed on what she could do.

"Our foul situation affected what strategies we could do on offense and defense," Palmer said. "We had too many people with four fouls."

But Palmer also said this loss could have a positive impact on her team.

"We played a great game, really," she said. "I'm challenging them to step it up and play well. This is a good team. We have to find a way to stop shooting ourselves in the foot."

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