Garden City falls to Pratt in second half, 83-76

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's JJ Watson, right, goes up for a basket over the Allen County defense Saturday at Perryman Athletic Complex.

Cole Dewey will never make excuses. And rightfully so. The North Carolina native grew up around the game and played for his dad. And even after his team fumbled away a 12-point lead late in the second half on Monday night, the Garden City Community College first-year head coach stayed true to his values.

"We are still learning how to win those types of games," he said. "I thought our guys competed. But we are out of shape, and that's on all of us."

Malcolm Whitlow, poured in 22 points, Tommy Thomas chipped in 17 including a backbreaking triple from the right corner with less than five minutes to play, and Pratt overcame a double-digit deficit over the final eight minutes to beat Garden City 83-76 at the Beaver Dome.

"I felt like we had a good thing going with the five guys that we had on the floor," Dewey explained. "But I played them too long. I didn't want to take them out because I didn't know who I could trust on the bench."

The loss snapped the Broncbusters two-game winning streak and dropped them to 3-3 overall and 2-3 in conference. But boy, everything was setup nicely for the brown and gold.

Trailing by three five minutes into the second half, Dewey turned to arguably the best six man in the league, Hampton University transfer J.J. Watson, who rewarded his coach with an infusion of energy. The sophomore drilled three treys in less than two minutes; then sank three free throws after he was fouled from deep, Denver Jones, the leading scorer in the Jayhawk Conference, drove right past two defenders for a layup, and Mason Osborne nailed a 3 to put the Broncbusters up 65-53 with 8:15 remaining.

"I thought our guys really fed off the crowd in this game," Dewey said. "I thought they did a good job. We had five dudes who were tough enough to play in an environment like this. I just needed a couple more."

From that moment on, everything was a blur.

Thomas answered with a layup, two free throws and a 3, Cam Morris maneuvered to the cup, and Whitlow hit a beautiful reverse layup, igniting a 13-0 run that put Pratt on top 69-67. After Watson stemmed the tide momentarily with his fourth triple and Jasman Sanga hit a right-handed hook in the paint to give the Broncbusters a three-point edge, Garden City went silent. And that's when Pratt went to work.

Whitlow connected on consecutive driving layups, his team hit 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch, and the Beavers closed the contest on a 12-2 surge. During that same time, Garden City was held scoreless for 3:10.

"I wrote on the board before that game that we needed a total team effort," Dewey added. "And this was not a total team effort."

Pratt made their run despite shooting under 40 percent in the second half. How did they do it? By getting to the line. Sean Flynn's squad put up 27 free throws over the final 20 minutes (20-of-27). They also outworked the brown and gold on the glass, snatching 18 offensive boards while outrebounding Garden City 45-31.

"We have to stay the course and keep shooting," Dewey said. "We have a bunch of shooters on this team. But the bottom line is this: we have to be better."

As they did against Allen, the Broncbusters looked fresh at the start, matching every haymaker Pratt threw at them. Jones completed a three-point play, and Sangha converted a right-handed flip at the rim to give Garden City a 23-14 advantage. But just like in the second half, the Beavers pushed back, and when Carlos Montiel connected on two of Pratt's 18 second-chance points, Pratt had evened the score at 28 with 2:33 remaining. The Broncbusters were up two at the intermission.

Whitlow, who entered Monday night's tilt as the fifth leading scorer in the Jayhawk, finished 7-of-13 from the field with six rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes for Pratt, who won at home for the first time since Jan. 22. Harrison Eghan tallied nine points off the bench.

Watson paced the Broncbusters with 22 points on 7-of-16 from the field including 4-of-10 from downtown. But the rest of the team combined to go 2-of-14 from deep (14 percent). Sangha sprinkled in 21 points and seven rebounds, and Jones had 17-going 11-for-11 from the stripe.

Garden City  35; 41; - 76

Pratt  33; 50; - 83

The Broncbusters were back in action on Wednesday, when they hosted Barton County.