“At this time in the season, a win is a win. ... This team that I have this year is a very gritty team.” RICKY WILSON, BRCC coach
The Baton Rouge Community College men’s basketball team has lost only one game since the calendar turned to 2013.
The third-seeded Bears carried that hot streak into the postseason Wednesday afternoon, topping No. 6 Southwest Mississippi Community College 82-81 in overtime in the opening round of the Region 23 Tournament.
BRCC (16-13) led by three at halftime and had a chance to win the game with a shot at the buzzer. But the Bears needed an eight-point overtime period to squeeze out the one-point win.
“At this time in the season, a win is a win,” BRCC coach Ricky Wilson said. “It’s a great win. This team that I have this year is a very gritty team. This team doesn’t get rattled. At this time of year, there is no time to get tired.”
Freshman guard Trey Anthony paced the scoring for the Bears, putting up 17 points. Fellow freshman Jeffrey Walker posted a double-double with16 points and 13 rebounds.
Freshman point guard Morris Walker added 15 points and eight assists, and Damarcus Pitts and Darrice Whitley each scored 10. DeShawn Washington chipped in seven points and eight assists.
Southwest’s Devion Smith led all scorers with 23 points, followed Deione Weeks with 14 and Devin Flowers with 12.
The two teams came out of the gates firing back and forth throughout the entirely of the first half. Wright nailed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the opening period to give the Bears a three-point cushion at the break, 44-41.
BRCC shot 67 percent from the field in the first half before cooling off a bit in the second period. The Bears went into a zone defense in the second half, which Wilson said slowed the pace of the game and allowed Southwest to hang around.
“It was kind of a back-and-forth game,” Wilson said. We really struggled down in the second-half by going zone.We really got them on the offensive boards. That’s what really kept us in the game.”
BRCC outrebounded Southwest by 10 in the contest and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer. The shot was no good, and regulation ended at 81 apiece.
The eight-man Bears squad put up eight points while holding Southwest to seven in overtime to advance to the second round of the tournament.
“They had some pretty big guys, but that’s what we preach: defending and rebounding. Us rebounding the ball the way we did kept us in the game.”
BRCC will get an off day Thursday, which Wilson said will be used for practice and film sessions, before taking on No. 2 East Mississippi Community College at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
The Bears have faced the Lions (18-7) twice the season, beating them both times, once on the road and once at home, which gives Wilson reason to be both confident and concerned.
“I think in their mind, they have some payback,” Wilson said. “Nobody has given them two losses this year, so they’re going to be ready for us. We just have to get our guys prepared and understanding that this is a very, very, very good basketball team we’re playing against.”
The winner will get a trip to the finals of the tournament at 8 p.m. Saturday.