NMMI Sports Press
Three Broncos with double figures in points couldn't match the scoring output of New Mexico Junior College, with NMMI dropping their first home game of the season, 80-54.
The Institute's first and only lead of the game came in the first four minutes of play. The Broncos took the tip-off in for the score, Cyriaque Foucart hitting Jermaine Carter for an easy two.
Carter then assisted Isaiah Francis to make it 4-2; Francis dished back out to GWarren Douglas for a trey, 7-2; and Foucart hit from outside the arc after an assist by Kaleb Hicks to make it 10-3 with 16:40 left in the first half.
But the Thunderbirds came storming back, taking a 16-15 lead at the 9:59 mark, and extending that lead to 38-29 before heading into the locker rooms.
An inspired, at times, NMMI defense forced 18 NMJC turnovers and recorded 12 blocked shots - including three in less than 30 seconds by Anthony Mensah - but gave up too many buckets in transition, and too many points inside the paint.
In the second half, the Thunderbirds, with five players scoring in double digits, kept the game out of reach.
Francis was NMMI top scorer with 16 points; Hicks got the double-double with 11 points and just as many rebounds; and Douglas also finished with 11 points, despite fouling out early in the second half.
For head Bronco coach Sean Schooley, shooting woes combined with turnovers overshadowed the sometimes spectacular plays on defense.
"We played great defense at times. We blocked a lot of shots," said Schooley. "But we turned the ball over 17 times, so the turnover game was a wash. And because we weren't shooting that well, our turnovers became that much more glaring.
"It's hard to explain - we've been on the road for 11 games, and have shot better in other people's gyms than we did here at home tonight. Perhaps we just put too much pressure on ourselves. As coaches, we've got do a better job of getting our players mentally prepared. With a young group, when you start missing shots, it's hard for them to bounce back."
But despite a 2-10 start to the season, coach Schooley still has faith in his youthful squad.
"This is a good group of kids. They're athletic and they're giving it their all. I think they're going to develop into a pretty good team. One night we shoot it well but we don't rebound; next night just the opposite. It's just a learning curve. Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier as we move into conference play. But we've got a few games before that, and a break. Our kids have been here since August - it's time to let our kids ready for finals and then let them get home for a bit," finished Schooley.