TOP-RANKED BLUE DRAGONS WIN 20TH STRAIGHT AFTER DEFEATING PRATT
Sophomore A.J. Spencer scored a game-high 22 points and the bench chipped in significant minutes as the NJCAA No. 1-ranked Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team extended its season-opening winning streak to 20 games in an 85-62 Jayhawk West victory over Pratt on Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.
One of three remaining undefeated teams in the NJCAA - No. 2 Vincennes University and No. 3 Spartanburg Methodist College are the others - Hutchinson tied the 1993-94 national champion Blue Dragons for the fourth-longest winning streak in program history.
The Blue Dragons (20-0, 6-0 Jayhawk West) did so with a second-straight dominating defensive effort. HCC held Pratt (12-8, 2-4) to 35.2 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Hutchinson's defense held Pratt to 3 of 18 shooting to start the game.
Offensively, Hutchinson shot 50.9 percent from the field and had a good night at the free-throw line, going 25 of 32.
Spencer knocked down 7 of 9 field-goal-attempts and was 8 of 9 from the free-throw line to complete is fourth 20-point game of the season. Spencer also had eight rebounds.
Freshman Kadeem Allen tied a season high with three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Sophomore Alex Davis had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
HCC got huge efforts off the bench from sophomore Dre Henley and freshman Nathan Jackson.
Henley had a Blue Dragon season-high 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting to go with six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. Jackson had seven points and a pair of rebounds. HCC's bench outscored Pratt's 35-20.
The Blue Dragons shot better than 50 percent for the second-straight game and 10th time this season, hitting 28 of 55 shots from the field. The Dragons were 4 of 8 from 3-point range. HCC out-rebounded Pratt 49-31, but still had 21 turnovers.
DeShun Roberts had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists to lead Pratt. Randall Rogers and Devin Callon had nine points each.
The Beavers shot 25 of 71 overall, hitting 7 of 23 from the 3-point line and 5 of 11 from the foul line.
The Blue Dragons weren't able to immediately take advantage of Pratt's ice-cold shooting in the opening stages of the first half. HCC shot 43.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes and led only 19-11 at the 7:27 mark before Pratt's Rogers buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five at 19-14 with 7:11 remaining.
That was as close as Pratt got in the game, but the estimated crowd of 2,600 at the Sports Arena never felt comfortable. When Pratt's Sean Michaelson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, HCC led 28-20 with 2:54 left in the half.
The Blue Dragons responded with a Henley basket and a Spencer fastbreak dunk to push the lead back to 32-20 with 2:03 to play. A Jackson layup gave Hutch a 14-point lead, but Pratt's Bryan Hellman hit a 3-pointer to end the half and Hutchinson's lead was 38-27 at intermission.
An early Spencer three-point play inched the Dragon advantage back to 14 at 43-29 with 18:49 to play, but Pratt hung around. Allen dropped a 3-pointer for HCC with 16:45 to play for a 14-point lead, but Lucas Stivrins scored inside and Callon's steal and layup pulled the Beavers back within 48-38 with 15:54 to go in the second half.
Pratt's Javin Flynn completed a three-point play with 15:21 left and Pratt was down only 49-41, but the Dragons continued to get inside and get to the foul line. The Blue Dragons shot 60 percent (15 of 25) from the floor and was 14 of 20 from the foul line in the second half.
Leading 53-43 with 13:54 left, the Blue Dragons finally got a firm grasp on the game with an 11-4 run over the next 3:24. Allen hit a 3-pointers and Spencer scored inside to build a 64-47 lead with 10:30 to play in the second half.
From that point, the Blue Dragons slowly pulled away, building a game-high lead of 26 points at 85-59 in the final 30 seconds of the game.
Hutchinson will travel on Saturday to Concordia to take on Cloud County in a 8 p.m. tipoff at the Thunderdome.
GAME NOTES - This was all-time Blue Dragon victory No. 1,617. … HCC head coach Steven Eck earned his 98th Blue Dragon victory. …HCC is now 132-23 all-time vs. Pratt. The Dragons have won seven in a row against the Beavers. … Alex Davis now has 112 career blocked shots, which is fifth on HCC's career list. … The Blue Dragons are 16-0 at the Sports Arena this season. … This was the 10th time this season HCC has out-rebounded an opponent. The plus-18 rebounding margin ties for the second-largest this season. … This was the ninth time HCC has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting this season. … The 25 free throws tie for the second most this season. … The 49 rebounds tie for the second most this season. HCC has 96 rebounds in the last two games. … The 21 assists are the fourth most this season. … HCC's eight blocked shots tie for the fourth most this season. … Jack Pyle tied a career high with six rebounds. … Nathan Jackson's seven points are a Jayhawk West season high for him.