Finest feline

Tigers tame Cougars in Emerson Classic finale

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College forward Mohamed Thiam, right, shoots a jumper over Highland’s Jalen White (4) during the Tigers’ 74-72 victory over the Cougars in the final game of the Emerson Classic on Saturday.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College forward Mohamed Thiam, right, shoots a jumper over Highland’s Jalen White (4) during the Tigers’ 74-72 victory over the Cougars in the final game of the Emerson Classic on Saturday.

The Marshalltown Community College men’s basketball team capped off two days of action on the MCC campus in the Emerson Classic on Saturday night with a tight one against Highland Community College, but in the end the Tigers were able to close out the classic with a 74-72 victory over the Cougars.

MCC head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson said this definitely wasn’t the prettiest win of the season for his squad, especially considering they only shot 32 percent in the second half after hitting almost 50 percent of their shots in the first, but in the end the Tigers (5-1) found a way to win.

“It was ugly, we are still struggling with figuring out who and when we need to shoot some shots,” Brynjarsson said after the game. “We had about 12 or 14 possessions there in the second half where we were plus-9 above, but we just didn’t score the ball and that’s the reason we shot 32 percent.

“At the same time I am proud of the way we were able to win, Oscar (Kao) making a big shot there to make it a five-point game. Then we made enough free throws to make it happen, but we have to get these sections out of our game where we just go blank for so many minutes.”

As Brynjarsson said, Kao was essentially the hero of the victory, hitting a three to put the Tigers up 70-65 with less than two minutes left and nailing a couple of clutch free throws to help secure the two-point triumph. Kao scored 12 on the night and chipped in a pair of steals and rebounds, and Brynjarsson said his freshman from Taipei, Taiwan, hasn’t even begun to peak this season.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College freshman Javarcus Word, right, drives on Highland guard Jay’Quan McCloud during the Tigers’ 74-72 victory over the Cougars on Saturday in the Emerson Classic.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College freshman Javarcus Word, right, drives on Highland guard Jay’Quan McCloud during the Tigers’ 74-72 victory over the Cougars on Saturday in the Emerson Classic.

“It was nice to see, he goes 7-for-7 from the line and I thought he played hard and played much better in the second half than he did in the first,” Brynjarsson said. “That’s what Oscar is capable of doing, he’s been doing that in his career in Taiwan all along and it was nice to see him step up and make that shot because there’s a lot of basketball ahead of him that I think will be even better than what he’s playing right now.”

While Kao had the late-game heroics, it was sophomore Mohamed Thiam who shined for most of the game, netting 24 points and nine rebounds on an 8-for-18 shooting performance. Thiam averaged 25 points in the two games of the Emerson Classic, as he went for 26 in MCC’s win over the William Penn University JV on Friday, but Brynjarsson said when the guys are having trouble scoring and teams are trying to take away Thiam they need another option to step up.

“He took a couple of tough ones during that down stretch, but other than that Mohamed is Mohamed,” Brynjarsson said. “We’ve got to figure out and understand when we go those possessions and we are empty, we have to figure out who needs to get the ball and go from there.”

What kept Highland (2-3) hanging around in the match was an extremely hot shooting night and some defensive lapses by the Tigers. The Cougars shot 49 percent for the game and 46.7 percent from three, and Jay’Quan McCloud led all scorers with his 26 for Highland.

The Cougars won the points-in-the-paint battle 28-14, outscored MCC off turnovers 14-7, and outrebounded the Tigers 29-25. Brynjarsson didn’t pull any punches on what he thought about losing all of those statistical categories.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“That was very disappointing, I will just flat out say that,” he said. “We talked about the glass, we talked about how that was a battle that we needed to win but we didn’t get that done. That’s something we will really watch our film on and emphasize the one day that we have to prep here for Ellsworth.”

As Brynjarsson alluded to, next up for MCC is a match against a 5-1 Ellsworth team on Tuesday night. With the fast turnaround, Brynjarsson said his guys have to work on correcting their mistakes quickly if they want a win over the Panthers.

“We are going to take tomorrow off and get back at it on Monday, get a game plan for Ellsworth, but our identity has to be defending, rebounding and team together,” he said. “Those are the three things we need to stand for, and we are both close and far away.”

The Tigers host Ellsworth on Tuesday night starting at 7 p.m. at the Student Activity Center.

MCC 74, Highland CC 72

HIGHLAND CC (2-3) — Smith 5-9 5-6 15, Lyte 1-3 0-0 2, McCloud 10-17 2-2 26, Carter 1-4 0-1 0-0 2, Barisic 3-9 6-6 13, White 1-2 0-0 2, Ford 2-2 2-4 8, Johnson Jr. 1-2 0-0 2, Blocker 0-0 0-0 0, Sustic 0-1 2-2 2. TOTALS 24-49 17-20 72.

MARSHALLTOWN CC (5-1) — Foster 0-1 1-2 1, Kao 2-7 7-7 12, Thiam 8-18 6-8 24, Vidovic 1-8 2-2 4, Karadan 3-7 4-6 11, Word 3-3 0-0 9, Ting 0-2 0-0 0, Ndiaye 4-5 0-0 8, Kelton Edwards 1-4 2-2 5, Lane 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22-55 22-27 74.

Halftime–MCC 41, Highland 37. 3-Point Goals–Highland 7-15 (McCloud 4-5, Ford 2-2, Barisic 1-4, Smith 0-1, Carter 0-1, Sustic 0-1), MCC 8-22 (Word 3-3, Thiam 2-6, Karadan 1-1, Kao 1-2, Edwards 1-2, Foster 0-1, Ting 0-1, Vidovic 0-6). Rebounds–Highland 29 (Barisic 7), MCC 25 (Thiam 9). Assists–Highland 7 (Smith 3), MCC 11 (Word 4). Team Fouls–Highland 22, MCC 20. Fouled Out–Karadan.