Russhard Cruickshank’s last-minute corner 3-pointer was just a bit off, and the rebound went right through Traylynn Spencer’s grasp.
That’s how Saturday’s entire game went for the Garden City Community College Broncbusters in a 74-66 loss to New Mexico Junior College. The Busters end the weekend 0-2 in their own Broncbuster Invitational, also suffering a 77-61 loss to Odessa on Friday night.
“Frustrating,” GCCC head coach Patrick Nee said of the loss, which drops the Busters to 5-3, stumbling for the third time in four games. “There was no consistency in our offense. Jamir (Thomas) and Russhard (Cruickshank) did a good job for us, but we’ve got to do a better job of moving without the ball.”
Thomas and Cruickshank had 12 points each, but no other Buster was in double digits — the first time that’s happened for Garden City this season. That was not the only low.
The Busters never led, shot 50 percent from the free-throw line and were out-rebounded. Even when their defense stood tall, holding New Mexico scoreless for two minutes near the end of the game, the offense could not rally.
Down six in the final minute, Cruickshank’s missed 3 and Spencer’s inability to grab the rebound sealed the New Mexico win.
“I’m going to get their attention tomorrow,” Nee said. “We’re going to go out and practice hard and get ready for Cloud on Wednesday. Our goal wasn’t to be undefeated or anything like that. Our goal was to win the Jayhawk West, and that’s still on the table obviously. We’re 0-0, but we’ve got to get ready for Cloud.”
A choppy, disjointed first half could have left the Busters further behind the T-Birds than they ended up being at the break — 34-32. A pair of 3-pointers in the final minute pulled them within that margin, despite the sloppy early play.
The Busters had seven turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, hitting less then 40 percent of their 2-point shots. They made up for that by going 3 of 6 from beyond the arc, including the treys in the final minute from Daishaun Woods and Elijah Kelly.
But the play was clearly dominated by New Mexico, which somehow won the first-half rebounding battle despite a distinct size disadvantage. The T-Birds led by as many eight six different times in the half, including just six minutes in on their fourth 3-pointer of the game for a 12-4 lead, prompting the Busters to take a second timeout.
From there, however, the Busters seemed to guard the arc a bit better, allowing just one more trey the rest of the half to keep within striking distance.
And the Busters drew even twice early in the second half, the latter on Spencer’s 3-pointer, but as New Mexico did all night, the T-Birds answered with a 3 of their own to re-take the lead, building it to as much 11 several times.
New Mexico was led by Ryan Murphy’s 19 points, and Darnell Rogers had 14.