When the Marshalltown Community College men's basketball team started taking care of the basketball, good things happened Wednesday night.
When good things happened the Tigers were able to turn an eight-point halftime lead into a 21-point victory as MCC improved to 6-0 following a 66-45 win over Southwestern Community College at the Student Activity Center.
"We stopped turning the ball over," MCC coach Brynjar Brynjarsson said. "It was almost like it was too easy for us early on. We got that big lead and then just started giving them the ball after three passes."
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
MCC freshman Jamal Gatali (31) glides in for a second-half slam dunk over a trio of Southwestern defenders during the Tigers’ 66-45 victory in front of the hometown crowd Wednesday night at the Student Activity Center.
The Tigers turned the ball over 16 times in the game but had a much cleaner effort in the second half, which helped them pull away on the scoreboard.
MCC was able to stay in front in the first half despite the turnovers because of aggressive rebounding. The Tigers collected 13 offensive boards and out-rebounded the Spartans, 42-25, in the win.
"We rebounded OK, but we gave up some offensive rebounds at times because our defense was guarding so much in that first half," Brynjarsson said. "The time of possession in that first half was greatly in their favor. So to win by that many points means that we worked hard. That was not the issue."
Marshalltown CC 66,
Southwestern CC 45
SWCC (2-3) - M. Edwards 6-16 1-2 15, Wright 2-3 0-2 4, Halcomb 1-4 2-2 4, Kastrup 3-12 1-2 7, Harrison 2-4 0-0 4, Mason 0-3 0-0 0, Littleton 2-9 0-1 6, England 0-0 0-0 0, Negri 0-0 0-0 0, Blazek 0-0 0-0 0, Theis 2-4 0-0 5, Kayser 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 4-9 45.
MCC (6-0) - Caird 5-12 3-4 15, Gatali 5-11 2-4 13, Carter 3-7 2-4 8, Holloway 1-2 0-0 3, Delinac 4-9 0-0 11, Clyburn 0-0 0-0 0, Kelly 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 1-2 1, Robinson 0-0 0-1 0, S. Edwards 2-3 0-0 4, Adair 2-3 2-7 7, Coleman 2-4 0-0 4, Strong 0-0 0-0 0, Brue 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-53 10-22 66.
Halftime - MCC 35-27. 3-Point Goals - SWCC 5-16 (M. Edwards 2-5, Halcomb 0-1, Kastrup 0-1, Harrison 0-1, Mason 0-3, Littleton 2-9, Theis 2-4. MCC 8-19 (Caird 2-6, Gatali 1-3, Holloway 1-1, Delinac 3-6, Adair 1-1, Coleman 0-2). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - SWCC 25 (M. Edwards 4, Wright 4, Kastrup 4, Harrison 4, Theis 4), MCC 42 (Caird 9). Total Fouls - SWCC 17, MCC 18.
The issue was turnovers.
After MCC collected an 11-2 lead early in the contest, the Spartans clawed their way back into the game because of MCC miscues. SWCC (2-3) eventually grabbed a 15-13 advantage after back-to-back triples by Marcus Littleton.
A 7-0 run by the Tigers put the home team back in front by five, but MCC couldn't shake free until an 8-2 run at the end of the half pushed a two-point lead into an eight-point halftime cushion. Six of those points came off back-to-back 3-pointers by Matej Delinac and Lamont Adair. Adair put his triple through the nets as time expired.
"We did a nice job of guarding tonight, and that kept us in the game in the first half," Brynjarsson said. "We became more agressive in the second half, started sharing the ball and made plays on the offensive side of the ball."
SWCC continued to stay close during the early stages of the second half, scoring eight of the first nine points of the stanza to close to within one.
The Tigers would respond though with a huge run after that. A 14-2 spurt by MCC essentially put the game away. During that run, five different Tigers scored. Sophomore Chris Caird got the run going from the foul line and freshman Jamal Gatali finished it off with a two-handed slam that brought the crowd to their feet.
"That dunk he made changed momentum for us," said Caird, who finished with a team-high 15 points and nine boards. "We stopped turning the ball over in that second half and rebounded better and that was the difference I think."
The 13-point lead ballooned to 16 a few minutes later following another big play from Gatali. This time, the freshman out of Toronto, Canada, converted a 3-point play with 6 minutes to go in the game. Gatali finished with 13 points and six rebounds in the Tiger victory.
The Spartans never got any closer the rest of the way. MCC's biggest lead of the night came when Delinac buried an open trey to push the advantage to 23 points with just more than a minute left. Delinac also scored in double figures with 11 points, connecting on 3-of-6 from long range.
SWCC was led by Marquealis Edwards, who tallied 15 points, four rebounds and three steals. No other Spartan scored in double-digits, and SWCC shot just 32 percent from the floor.
"Give SWCC credit, they played us tough," Brynjarsson said. "We were able to defend really well tonight and that was the difference in the end."
Any way you look at it, the Tigers are still undefeated.
"We need to stop coming out so flat," Caird said. "We were forcing too much early and not letting the offense come to us. We made some shots in the second half, which always helps. In the end, we are still 6-0."
The Tigers shot 45 percent from the field and had a plus six advantage at the foul line. However, MCC was just 10-of-22 from charity stripe in the game. ... Caird and Delinac combined for five triples in the game. The Tigers were 8-of-19 from behind the 3-point line in the contest. ... Troidell Carter had eight points and four rebounds for the Tigers, while Lamont Adair led the bench with seven points. MCC's bench outscored SWCC 16-11. ... The Tigers will next play in the Kirkwood Classic this weekend. They take on Dakota County on Friday and then challenge Elgin CC on Saturday.