by Michael D. Gunnell
Southwest Sports Information
Unable to sustain their early momentum, the Bears were defeated 68-60 Thursday night in MACJC South Division play by the host Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs.
A TJ Ben trey and Roderick Smith layup helped the Bears race out to a 9-0 lead with 14:20 left in the opening half.
Gulf Coast then began to find the range in a big way, going on a 30-6 run to take a 30-15 lead with 1:52 before halftime. They went on to take a 32-19 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
The home team held a 43-28 lead with 11:54 left in the second half. The Bears (11-8, 3-7) then regained their early-game form to outscore Gulf Coast 21-11, including a Jay Malone three pointer, to pull to within 54-49 with 6:26 still to play.
That, however, would be as close as the Bears would get the rest of the way as Gulf Coast (16-3, 8-2) held on for the eight-point win.
"It was a tough loss for our group that played hard from start to finish," said Bears head coach Bryan Bender. "We were just a step slow on both ends of the floor."
"TJ and Roderick both had solid scoring nights," Bender continued, "and it was good to see them continue to get better and contribute in the scoring column. (We have) a huge game coming up Monday (and) we need everyone in our community to rally behind our group for a much-needed win."
Ben and Malone both scored 12 points to pace the Bears' offense while Smith netted 11 points. The Bears went 11-10 at the free throw line.
Willie Logan and Dillyn Neely both scored 13 points to lead Gulf Coast. The home team hit 14 of 21 free throws.
The Bears are back home for their next contest as they host Co-Lin on February 11. The South Division matchup is set to get underway at 7:15.