GILROY – The Rams outscored the visiting Panthers 41-35 in the
second half but it wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start to the
GILROY – Coming off of a disappointing loss to San Jose City College two days earlier to start the Coast Conference portion of the season, Gavilan College men’s basketball head coach Tito Addison said prior to his team’s matchup against visiting conference opponent Hartnell College that if his guys could “put the ball in the basket” they would be fine.
Unfortunately, that simple and fundamental statement didn’t play out as seven straight missed shots and a 14-point deficit to open up the first half haunted the Rams in a 76-68 loss to the Panthers on Friday night.
The Rams (5-11, 0-2) managed to get within three points with six minutes remaining in the second half, however, the early dry spell ultimately doomed the home team in the end.
“We just have to make shots,” sophomore Arron Mollet said. “We came out really cold. Those were shots that we should make because they are not heavily contested. They are shots that should be going in.”
The Panthers (11-6, 2-0) didn’t wait around for the Rams to heat up, jumping out to a 14-0 advantage behind a steady outside-in attack, scoring the first eight points of the game inside the paint.
“It’s always bad to start conference 0-2,” said the 6-foot-2 guard Mollet, who had nine points on the night. “This is a crucial time of the season and it’s not a good start for us.”
Faced with an uphill climb back into the contest, the Rams slowly chipped away at gap. A swift dish from sophomore Travis Masterbone gave Sal Moran a nice look at the hoop for a layup, leaving the Rams down just seven at 20-13 with eight to play in the opening half.
The Panthers responded with the game’s leading scorer Blake Francom, who proceeded to score nine points in less than a minute to put his team back up by 14. Francom finished with 23 points.
Despite the daunting figures on the scoreboard at the end of the first half – 41-27 in favor of the Panthers – the Rams came out a different ball club in the second half.
Contributions from freshmen Christian Camacho, Travis Jonson and Elliot Lawson helped the Rams slice the lead to four points at three junctures in the final 20 minutes.
A 3-pointer by Jordan Ramirez followed by a Jonson steal and layup pushed the Rams to within five at 49-44 midway through.
But an 8-0 spurt by the Panthers over the next two-plus minutes put them back up nine with the clock now a factor.
A Camacho bucket and a Mollet steal and slam dunk brought the Rams within five points once more, but they would get no closer over the final two minutes.
“We had some keys guys step on defense and it really helped in that second half,” said 6-foot sophomore Nicholas Strauthers, who had six points for the Rams. “No one wants to lose two in a row in conference. We need to have a better start. We take one game at a time. This game is over so we are already looking forward to the next one.”
Camacho ended his evening with eight points, Jonson had 10, Ramirez contributed 12 and Lawson led all Rams scorers with 13.
Gavilan will travel down the coast to face Monterey Peninsula College on Wednesday before hosting Cabrillo College on Friday.
Game time for Wednesday is 7:30. Friday’s tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.