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Rustler men nearly wipe out Miles lead before falling 70-61

Jan 27, 2014 - By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer

Two road games in Montana are next for the CWC men.

The Central Wyoming men suffered through a lethargic spell in the second half Saturday afternoon at home against Miles Community College, then fell short in a furious comeback in the final minutes of play. Miles held on to win 70-61.

The loss comes after an exciting road win over the Sheridan Generals on Wednesday. A letdown after that win earlier in the week may have been a factor in Saturday's game.

"We just didn't have the energy. We were sluggish the whole game," Central head coach Pat Rafferty said. "A big part of being good is learning how to handle success. We had a little bit of a hangover after the Sheridan win."

Saturday's game opened with back and forth play in the opening minutes featuring three times and four lead changes before a flurry from Miles City built a 15-9 lead after Conner Smyle hit a 3-pointer with 12:11 left in the half.

The Rustlers responded with a 6-0 run of their own on a tip by Daryle Morgan and a pair of driving layups by Eimer Lopez to knot the game at 15.

The Pioneers rebuilt their lead to 28-23 on another trey from Smyle and a second by LaSalle Massey, but the Rustlers didn't fold. Isaiah Tademy hit a 3-pointer for CWC with :48 left in the half to close the gap to 30-31, and Lopez followed with just a few ticks on the clock with a towering 3-pointer that narrowly beat the shot clock and ticked the twine as the half ended. The Rustlers led 33-31 at the break.

Miles City picked up the intensity in the second half with tenacious defense and an opportunistic inside/outside offensive attack.

Smyle hit his third 3-pointer, and Massey cruised on a coast-to-coast power move to cap a 10-0 Miles City run.

CWC finally scored on a free throw to slow the onslaught. It proved to be just a bump in the road for the Pioneers, who reeled off another eight unanswered points to take their largest lead of the game at 58-40. The final points in the run came on a breakaway two-handed slam by 6-5 Jonathan Dogbo of Villeneuve, France.

Rafferty called time out, the first of four he would use in the final minutes, and exhorted his team to pick up the intensity. The Rustlers then came to life on a 15-5 flurry of their own to cut the lead to six points with just over a minute to play. Morgan hit a 3-pointer and slammed home a dunk on a follow shot to highlight the run.

CWC hit Miles City with full-court pressure and the Pioneers wilted under it. The Rustlers tallied six steals in the final 90 minutes of the game and converted those into points on five possessions to keep the game interesting. Two of those possessions ended in 3-pointers by Bryce Canda, but Miles City had the answer at the free throw line and held on for the win.

"We're not deep enough to play that way for very long," Rafferty said. "We needed to chip away at the lead and get some stops, and we did. We've had the opportunity to learn from every game. We have a small margin of error."

Central hits the road for Montana this weekend, with a Friday game at Little Big Horn and a Saturday contest at Dawson.

CENTRAL WYOMING 33 28 W22; 61

MILES CITY 31 39 - 70

Central Wyoming - Matt Johnson 4 0-0 8, Eimer Lopez 3 (2) 3-5 15, Ryan Nemelka (2) 0-0 6, Bryce Canda 1 (2) 0-0 8, Daryle Morgan 4 (1) 4-7 15, Jairo Lopez 1 0-0 2, Isaiah Tademy 2 (1) 0-0 7. Totals 15 (8) 7-12 61

Miles City - Conner Smyle 1 (3) 2-2 13, Tyree King 4 (1) 0-1 11, Ryan McCarty 1 4-4 6, Teslim Idris 2 0-0 4, Jonathan Dogbo 3 (2) 2-3 14, Quinn Smith 5 3-5 13, LaSalle Massey 2 (1) 0-0 7, Emmanuel Olufemi 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 (7) 11-13 70

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