OXFORD - It was just one of those days for the Oxford College Eagles on Saturday.
Their struggles continued as they were dealt yet another loss, this time at the hands of the talented Cobras from Caldwell (N.C.) Community College, 73-40.
The Cobras (9-2) jumped out early and often to a commanding 11-0 count with stellar play from freshman Carlton Smith (16 points) and sophomore Athalie Rivera. In fact, Oxford's first basket of the contest did not come until four minutes in as Sabree Makeen banked in a trey.
Oxford (1-11), which began the game in a 2-3 zone, was forced to play man-to-man defense in an effort to slow down the Cobra assault.
"They jumped out on us and we kept fighting," said Oxford head coach Roderick Stubbs. "We tried to switch defenses up, but we pretty much had to stick to man defense because we were down so far at the end."
Oxford's leading scorer Chad Hixon's three-point play cut the first half deficit to 19-12 with 9:00 remaining, as he found a lane to the basket. However, moments later Smith once again asserted himself for Caldwell by knocking down a three and adding the conventional three-point play himself to make it 30-16 as the Cobras began to pull away.
"Carlton did an outstanding job on Hixon," said Caldwell head coach Mike Hainrihar. "Hixon is one great player and I thought we did a nice job with that."
Caldwell (9-2) continued to pour it on in the first half as freshmen Cameron Walton and Trae Hinton (14 points) began to heat things up. Oxford's defensive change only allowed the opposing guards to penetrate the middle further, creating easy baskets toward the end of the opening 20 minutes.
Ahead 42-19, the Cobras went on a 9-0 run to open the second half. It was not until five minutes in that Makeen once again scored on a short jumper, making it 51-21.
Michael Chang and Eric Kelliher tried to provide a spark for the Eagles with some nice second half baskets, but the deficit was simply too much to overcome at that point.
"Our whole team feeds off of our defense," said Hainrihar. "[Hinton] and the rest of the guys stepped up and did a nice job of filling in the second half."
Hixon, who finished with 15 points, converted on beautiful back-to-back baskets at the 9:30 mark to bring the Eagles to 60-34. By that time things were well in hand as some of the reserves on both sides entered the game.
"We did try and run the offense as well as we could but we just didn't convert on the opportunities we had," said Stubbs.
The Cobras continued to move the ball well even with the game out of hand, which resulted in nice scoring plays by DeMario Garvin and Justin Reid off the bench.
Chang and Ty Trumbo finished out the scoring for Oxford. Chang's basket came on a lefty scoop shot behind his head, much to the delight of the afternoon home crowd.
"They really jumped out on us and then went on a run at the beginning of the second half," said Stubbs. "They're one of the better teams in the region but we really thought we would play better tonight."