Cougars fall in OT to No. 15 Salt Lake Western Nebraska mens’ hoops team edged by Bruins, 79-74
     2015-11-20      By The Gering Citizen    editor@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy photo Western Nebraska’s Mason Smith scored 10 points in a hard fought battle against the Salt Lake Community College Bruins on Saturday, pushing the No. 15 ranked team to overtime. The Cougars lost for the first time this season after a four-game win streak. 
TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team gave No. 15 Salt Lake Community College everything they had and then some, but in the end the Bruins held on to capture a 79-74 win over the Cougars in the final day of the Region 9/18 Challenge.

WNCC entered last Saturday’s contest fresh off upsetting top-ranked College of Southern Idaho 97-85 Friday night. The Cougars, after trailing by 10 at halftime, made a spirited second-half rally to almost get the win against the Bruins on their home court.

WNCC coach Russ Beck said his team showed they are one of the top teams in the nation after what they did this weekend.

“Tremendous weekend for the program,” Beck said. “We bounded together beating the number one team, and taking the home court number 15 team to the absolute wire losing in overtime to a very good Salt Lake team. It was a wonderful experience and we have proven this weekend that we are a top 10 team nationally. I love what we have and feel blessed to be around these players, our bus driver, and my assistant coach.”

The loss is the first for the Cougars after four straight wins, but it was a loss that saw the Cougars battle back. It is how they battled and fought to the end that gave Beck the sense this team can achieve plenty of success this season. “This team has a destiny,” he said. “Together as players, coaches, and fans if we work together we will achieve it together.”

Beck said his team battled toe-to-toe with Salt Lake, out-rebounding and out-shooting the Bruins. It was turnovers and a slow start that was the difference.

WNCC took a quick 5-2 lead to start the game on a Marquin Walton 3-pointer. After that the Bruins went on a 12-0 run to lead 14-5 and led 39-29 at halftime.

In the second half, the Cougars exploded, outscoring the 15th-ranked team 36-26. WNCC opened the period on a 14-4 run and Andrew Ramirez’s 3-pointer tied the game at 43-43. Moments later, Tyrell Williams slammed home a dunk to give the Cougars their first advantage since the 5-2 lead to start the game.

The game see-sawed back and forth. Salt Lake built a 10-point went up 57-47 before the Cougars managed to come back to tie the game at 57-57 with five minutes to play. WNCC took a 61-60 lead on a Williams lay-up.
Salt Lake led 65-63 with 18 seconds left before Chase Mason hit two free throws to tie the game and force overtime.

In the extra five minutes, WNCC went to a 69-65 lead behind bucket by Williams andMason Smith. Salt Lake went on an 8-0 run to lead 73-69 before WNCC cut the lead to 73-71 on two Williams’ free throws. The Bruins scored the next six points to grab a 79-71 lead. Ramirez hit a trey at the buzzer to bring the final score to five points.

WNCC out-rebounded Salt Lake 49-40 behind 12 boards each from Williams and Phil Fayne. WNCC also showed depth, out-scoring Salt Lake 30-21 from the bench.

WNCC had three players in double figures. Fayne led the team with 18 points, including two blocks and two steals. Williams tallied 17 points while Smith had 10 points.

The Cougars also received eight points each from Ramirez and Michael Sparks.

Salt Lake had three in double figures as well, led by Connor Toolson with 23 and 14 each from Tyler Rawson and Austin Waddoups.

WNCC will return home for three games next weekend when they will face the Valley Shooters on Thursday, Lamar Community College junior varsity on Friday and Western Iowa Technical College on Saturday.

WNCC (4-1) 29 36 9 – 74
Salt Lake (5-0) 39 26 14 – 79

WNCC

Marquin Walton 3, Mason Smith 10, Leon Tomic 6, Andrew Ramirez 8, Tyrell Williams 17, Daylon Harris 2, Chase Mason 2, Phil Fayne 18.

SALT LAKE

Gibson Johnson 6, Tyler Rowson 14, Ted Dufelmeier 1, Austin Waddoups 14, Connor Toolson 23, Bushman Ebet 8, Christian Musoko 8, Marcus White 5.

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