Boys basketball: Timely miscues doom Cougars
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For as long as Capital could keep from turning the ball over Monday night, the Cougars stayed with visiting Huntington step for step.
It was a rash of turnovers in the first and fourth quarters that did in Coach Carl Clark's team, however, paving the way for a 68-57 Highlanders win in Capital's season opener.
Of Capital's 18 turnovers, 14 came in the bookend quarters, enabling Huntington to outscore the hosts 16-11 in the first and 15-11 in the fourth.
"We try to put a lot of pressure on the ball and play tight, man-to-man defense," Huntington Coach Ron Hess said. "I think we finally got their defense to open up a little bit, and that opened up some driving lanes for us in the fourth quarter."
The loosening of Capital's own brand of full-court man defense was the result of what Clark called a "helter-skelter" brand of offense that resulted in too many forced shots, stunted possessions and transition buckets for Huntington down the stretch.
The Highlanders never trailed after taking a 12-9 lead with 1:09 left in the opening quarter, but the lead never stretched to more than nine points until little more than a minute remained in the game. In fact, Capital pulled to within four with 4:11 left in the game, when Austin Coleman put back a Carrington Morris miss to make it 58-54.
The Cougars had a chance to further cut into the lead when Morris, who led Capital with 17 points and 11 rebounds, stole the ball from Huntington senior guard Shaquan Miller with 3:57 left.
However, Highlander 6-foot-6 junior center Arick Nicks got a steal of his own to give Huntington possession again, and Capital scored but one point the rest of the way.
Hess said his team's patience in the second half was a significant factor in the win.
"We weren't patient enough in the first part of the game. One guy would get the ball and just try to take the ball to the hole," he said. "You just don't have any lanes when you try to do that.
"When we started moving ourselves and moving the basketball, it kind of opened the lanes so we could dribble in, and we could get to the basket a lot or we could kick the ball out for an open 3."
Junior guard Nick Tubbs was the biggest beneficiary of Huntington's increased efficiency in the second half. Tubbs was 7 of 12 from the floor and sank both of his 3-point attempts, finishing with a game-high 18 points. Nicks added 16 points and nine rebounds, while junior reserve forward Chancelor Wooding led the Highlanders (2-0) with 11 rebounds.
Huntington had 13 steals as a team, with Tubbs and Nate Demoss each grabbing three.
Morris, a junior who had just four points in the first half, took the Cougars on his back for much of the third and fourth quarters. He shot 18 times, more than twice the number of shots of any other Capital (0-1) players.
"As of right now I don't think we have a go-to guy," Clark said. "Carrington has more experience than the other kids, but we have to do a better job of executing what we do. We're not doing that.
"We expect some of this from the younger kids that we're using, but we've got to get better."
The Cougars, who play rival George Washington at home Wednesday in the Patriots' season opener, rotated 12 players Monday. Along with Morris, Capital started two sophomores (Brad Grose and Jordan Kinney) and two seniors (Coleman and DeQuan Yarbrough).
The Cougars also used two freshmen and a sophomore off the bench in significant minutes.