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Wildcats hurt by another slow start

December 24, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - If you don't answer the bell on Wall Street, you're not going to make any money.

If you don't answer the whistle at the start of a contest ready to play, chances are slim you're going to win.

For the second straight game, Williamsport performed poorly at the outset and it led to a 70-62 loss to Liberty on Friday night.

In a loss to Winters Mill on Tuesday, the Wildcats surrendered 22 points in the opening quarter. On Friday, it was a 24-point thumping Liberty put on Williamsport (2-2) out of the gate.

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"(Liberty) just broke us down right away," said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray, troubled by the 24-7 deficit after eight minutes. "You just can't not be ready and give up 24 points in a quarter and expect to win."

Liberty (3-2) hit 10 of 13 shots in the opening quarter. Thanks to a 15-point performance by Eric Houseman, the Lions dominated the Wildcats in the paint using quick ball movement and backdoor cuts off screens.

"We didn't put any pressure on them and when we did, they went right by us," said Mowbray. "(Liberty) was getting every loose ball, they moved better and were simply quicker than us when we started."

Williamsport managed to stem the tide in the second period only because of Chad Bikle, who scored 10 of the Wildcats' 11 points in the period, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer that made it 31-18 at the break.

To the credit of the Wildcats, they did not fold the tent.

Williamsport came out in the third period and went 10 of 10 inside the arc, missing only on two 3-pointers. Tim Alexander and Phillip Jordan each led the charge with six points.

Ryan Lee and Alexander each scored off of Liberty turnovers to slice the deficit to 49-41 after three periods. Lee hit one free throw at the start of the final period to make it 49-42.

However, Liberty regained its composure as Houseman and Ryan Liberatore each scored six points and Jason Davis had five as the Lions pushed their lead back to 64-49 with 2 minutes left.

The margin grew to 70-54 before Will Taylor scored the last eight points in a last-ditch effort for Williamsport.

"I give my kids credit that they didn't quit after digging that hole," said Mowbray. "We just need to be ready. You can't spot leads like that. We started to get better movement in the middle quarters. We were definitely better than in the beginning."

Williamsport shot 50 percent (24 of 48) but Liberty was much better, knocking down 68 percent (25 of 37).

Houseman finished with 25 points, hitting 10 of 13 shots. Smith had 22 and hit on 10 of 12 as Liberty scored 23 of its 25 field goals in the paint.

Bikle led Williamsport with 18 points, Jordan added 15 points and Taylor had 12.

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