BY CHAD DARE
The theme of the week for the Danville Area Community men’s basketball team was defensive execution.
After watching his team give up eight 3-pointers in an 83-79 loss to Wabash Valley on Monday, DACC coach Mike Carpenter spent his practice time working on defense.
The fourth-rated Jaguars (10-2 overall) saw their extra work pay off on Saturday afternoon with a hard-fought 62-60 victory over the Columbus State Cougars at the Mary Miller Gymnasium.
“We did execute the game plan very well against Wabash Valley on Monday,’’ said DACC sophomore Derek Shouse. “We emphasized that all week getting ready for this game.
“On the defensive side today, we executed our game plan against their screens. That’s their main game and we did a pretty good job against it.’’
And it was his team’s effort on defense and on the boards that pleased Carpenter.
“We did a great job in the second half of defending and rebounding,’’ he said. “If we were going to win this game, we had to defend and rebound.’’
Columbus State (7-3) scored just 22 second-half points, after 38 in the first half, and the Cougars lost the battle of the boards (43-35).
Having a big hand for DACC in both rebounds and defense was sophomore Mike Ryce.
The 6-foot-5 forward from Chicago had a season-high 14 rebounds as the Jaguars were playing without 6-9 freshman Ronnie White, who sat out after missing a practice this week.
“We were going without big Ron. I knew I just needed to step up and fill a role defensively and rebounding,’’ said Ryce, who scored a season-low nine points on 3-of-13 shooting. “I know I didn’t have a good shooting night, but as long as we won, I don’t care.’’
Carpenter pointed out that several guys stepped up in Saturday’s game, including David Hicks with 10 points off the Jaguars bench.
“Our guys are stepping into their roles and giving us productive minutes,’’ he said. “We still haven’t played a game with everyone healthy.’’
In the first half, the two teams traded the lead 10 times and there were five ties before Columbus State went on a 7-0 run to take a 38-35 halftime lead.
The Cougars did most of their damage driving to the basket, so the Jaguars went to a 2-3 zone in the second half.
“They were getting to the basket too easy against us,’’ Shouse said. “Our zone helped stopped their penetration and they weren’t hitting their outside shots.’’
Columbus State missed all three of its shots behind the arc in the final six minutes against the DACC zone, and the Cougars scored just seven points in the final seven minutes.
“We are getting the message on the defensive side of things,’’ Carpenter said. “When we make people take tough shots and we get a hand in the face — good things happen to us.
“Our kids did a great job in the zone. We got them out of their rhythm.’’
Carpenter credited his assistant coaches of DaJuan Guard, Pat Kelly and Rick Voyles for a good defensive game plan.
And while the offense was held a season-low 62, Carpenter admitted that was his fault.
“We spent so much time on the defense that our offense was not as good as it has been in the past,’’ he said. “There was too much standing around, and too much dribbling.’’
DACC had just four assists.
“We’re not going to beat teams in our league when we don’t share the ball,’’ Carpenter added. “We may not always score 85 points but when we can stop people and rebound the basketball — we can win every game we play.’’
And it was still a good victory after seeing their six-game win streak snapped on Monday.
“Coming off a loss like that, any type of win today was good,’’ Ryce said.
Evan Blackmon was the leading scorer for the Jaguars on Saturday with 18 points, followed by Shouse (12) and Hicks (10).
DACC is back in action on Wednesday with a game at Ancilla College in Indiana. The next home game for the Jaguars is Tuesday, Dec. 18 against Rose Hulman.