When the No. 2 NJCAA men’s basketball team comes to town, you know you’re in for a tough matchup. Oxford College felt the gravity of that statement when it hosted Johnson County Community College in an 83-64 rout on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
“They’re ranked No. 2 in the nation,” Roderick Stubbs, Oxford coach and athletic director, said. “We played better than what we were playing at the end of the first half of the season so we’re trying to get better for conference play. So part of the game I think we played extremely well, but we still have to make sure that we tighten up on the defensive end so that we’ll be successful in the conference.”
Four minutes into the game Johnson held a 7-4 lead. Down six, Oxford's Wesley Anderson split a scrambling Cavaliers’ defense and got inside for the contested floater to make it 12-8, Cavs.
Warren Specht extended Johnson’s lead to five with an open triple – a foreshadowing of the problems Oxford would face from deep throughout the game – after Oxford had gotten within one bucket.
The Eagles chipped away at the lead and forced a Cavalier timeout at the 10:05 mark of the first period with the Eagles down 17-16.
Zach Breathwaite flipped one in giving Oxford its first lead (20-19) since the opening minutes of the game. Johnson, however, answered with poise and we went on a 10-2 run to go up 29-22 with 4:16 left in the half.
Anderson banked in a floater to end the run and bring the game within five for the Eagles. The two teams traded baskets but an and-one from Roy Clater put Johnson up seven but the Eagles answered and went into halftime down 35-30.
Johnson started the second half on a 6-2 run forcing a timeout by Stubbs to stop the bleeding. The Eagles struggled to guard the Cavs from beyond the arc as Specht drained an open triple to put Johnson up 10 after Oxford’s Tony Patrick scored from inside the paint.
Three-pointers became a huge problem for the Eagles, as they only knocked down one triple for the game compared to 11 for the Cavaliers.
“Coming in we knew that they shot close to 50 percent from 3-point range. The first half we defended them fairly well, but in the second half they got in a rhythm and they went on a huge run which opened up the game,” Stubbs said.
The Eagles could score but they couldn't stop the 3s from Johnson as two back-to-back triples had Johnson up by 13.
With an Eagles’ turnover, Tyler Tucker scored on a breakaway layup, giving Johnson a 17-point cushion with 10:49 to play.
The Eagles would get within 16 points but weren't able to overcome the huge deficit, falling 83-64 for the third straight loss and a 6-9 record on the season.
“The first half we played extremely well,” Stubbs said. “The second half, I would say that first 10 minutes of that second half they got extremely hot, they made their shots, they played better defense and then the opportunities that we had we didn’t convert on which allowed them to expand the lead.”