The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team overcame a halftime deficit outscoring Northeastern Junior College 50-35 in the second half to capture a 82-70 Region IX South subregion win Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
The moves the Cougars to 8-1 in conference play and 21-6 overall. It was WNCC’s fifth straight win.
“Coach Cory [Fehringer] made adjustments at halftime and the guys did a good job responding,” assistant coach Billy Engel said. “Friday night we came out really well in defending and this game it took until the second half to start defending together as a unit. We took care of the glass in the second half. We were able to get stops and run transition. We were able to find Dru open for some threes. Bryce Sanchious had some big highlight plays in transition and really sparked us and gave us energy.
WNCC started the game hot, leading 10-3 and later 16-8. After that, things changed in the first half as NJC tied the game at 20-20 and then took it’s first lead of the game at 26-25. NJC led 35-32 at the break.
The second half was a different story. WNCC outscored the Plainsmen 50-35 and didn’t start making separation on the scoreboard until about 12 minutes to play. WNCC retook the lead right away when Jervay Green hit a bucket. NJC came right back and led 40-36 and then 44-43. That was when the Cougars started to assert themselves. Sanchious started things with an old-fashioned 3-point play and then Green hit a 3-pointer for a 49-44 lead.
NJC cut the lead to single digits twice in the next two or three minutes, but the Cougars started to string buckets together, pushing the lead to nine points, 65-56, on a Sanchious bucket.
WNCC never looked back after that.
Engel said the one stat that stands out is the team’s assists. WNCC finished with 28 assists, led by 11 from Marquis White and seven from Green.
“The assist number keeps going up. Friday’s game we had 24 assists and this game 28 assists. That is a huge number,” Engel said. “There wasn’t a lot of one-on-one scoring. We were really moving the ball and touching a lot of the guy’s hands. From a coaching staff perspective, when you see a big number in the assist column, that means a lot. We just have to eliminate those turnovers.”
WNCC had four players in double figures. Sanchious led the way with 22 points. Sanchious also pulled down eight rebounds.
Green finished with 19 points, while Martin Roub had 15 and Dru Kuxhausen had a quiet 13.
WNCC will be off until next weekend when they hit the road for two conference games when they face Otero Junior College on Friday and then Trinidad State Junior College Saturday afternoon.
NJC 35 35 – 70
WNCC (21-6) 32 50 – 82
Josh Carter 1, Nykolas Lange 14, Andrew Ferrin 4, Moz Doria 14, Ryan Begley 9, Mohamed Diallo 15, Relando Rodgers 1, Tarae Johnson 8, Ben Davis 4.
Dru Kuxhausen 13, Marquis White 8, Bryce Sanchious 22, Henry Tanksley 5, Jervay Green 19, Martin Roub 15.