Conference play in the KCAC doesn’t start until next week, but the Central Christian College men can unofficially say they’re 3-0.
The Tigers of the powerful MCAC made it 3-for-3 against KCAC schools on Monday by outlasting defending conference champion Friends 60-53 in a low-scoring, defensive slugfest at Alexander Arena.
Central now has victories over KCAC schools Friends, Bethel and McPherson College and is 7-1 overall. The Tigers go on the road for an exhibition game tonight at Southern Nazarene University.
The Tigers raced to a 13-0 lead, but it was about that time starting forward Alonzo Stafford picked up his second foul and the Falcons shifted into a sticky zone that slowed the game and scoring to a crawl.
“(It) Killed us,” said CCC coach Tony Romero, whose team scored only nine points in the final 14:37 of the half, which ended with the Tigers up 22-20. “Credit them. That’s a coaching error on my part. I saw it on film twice and I didn’t have my guys prepared for it. So that’s on me, that’s not on my guys.”
Little separated the teams during the second half until Friends went up 45-41 with 4:50 to go. But the Tigers summoned up one last burst, outscoring the Falcons 19-8 the rest of the way, with Stafford stepping up big with nine points.
“We drew up some stuff at halftime and they did a better job,” Romero said. “We finally made some shots at the end. That’s good. That’s the first time I really felt like we battled. We got down late in the game and we knew we were going to be tested by these guys. They’re a good team. They’re not a 1-8 team. They frustrated the heck out of us.”
Stafford scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds in only 22 minutes, while Dustin Rojas knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Guards Toby Baxter and Brett Williams were much of the Falcons’ offense with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
The Tigers shot just 36 percent from the field and the Falcons 33. Rebounding was a key as Central had a 42-33 advantage.
“We didn’t have a great shooting night. Dustin made some timely shots and Daniel (Nwosuh) made some timely shots at the end,” Romero said.
Nwosuh made a 3-pointer with CCC holding a 46-45 lead, then drove the lane for a tissue-soft teardrop runner. Those were his first baskets after making a 3-pointer for the game’s first points.
CCC (60) — Stafford 18, Quincy 2, Nwosuh 8, Gholston 5, Rojas 16, Jackson 6, Clayborn 3, LeBlanc 2.
Friends (53) — Anderson 8, Johnson 3, Williams 15, Baxter 17, Scott 2, Carter 5, Singhateh 3.