Jayhawks pull away from ACC men in 2nd half

The ACC men’s basketball team looked poised to grab a third straight win on Friday when it led Muskegon 47-39 at the half.

But by the time the buzzer sounded in the second, the Jayhawks had took firm command in an 88-73 win.

ACC beat Muskegon once last year.

“Both teams played hard. Our shots fell on the first half and didn’t in the second,” ACC head coach Frank McCourt said.

The Lumberjacks (2-6) ran into trouble early in the first half after Muskegon sprang to a 15-2 lead off three treys and two other field goals. Muskegon consistently shut down ACC’s attack for significant portions of the first half.

The Jayhawks maintained a comfortable lead after Marquis Hatter hit his second three-pointer of the night seven minutes in to give Muskegon an 18-4 lead.

ACC finally started to answer after Hatter’s three. During the next seven minutes, it outscored Muskegon 21-11 to pull to a 29-26 spread.

Key to this comeback was Travon Howard who hit a three and a field goal as well as Scott Hicks III who hit seven points.

Howard led the Lumberjacks with 18 points, while Hicks picked up 15.

ACC finally took a 37-36 lead with 2:47 left in the half, continually snagging rebounds under the Jayhawks’ basket and consistently generating turnovers.

A William Gates three-pointer with two minutes left was followed by a Jarod Jones trey 30 seconds later to take ACC to a 45-39 lead. The Lumberjacks held off any Jayhawks comeback to take the 47-39 lead at the half.

ACC seemed poised to stretch its lead even further after Howard hit a three one minute into the second half to take a 50-39 lead. However, the Lumberjacks ran into a dry spell at the basket and also ran into foul trouble with Rashard Donely.

Donely, a tall aggressive player prone to drawing fouls, was 2-of-6 from the line in the first half. He hit 10-of-12 in the second half and hit field goal to pick up 12 points in the second half. He led the Jayhawks with 22 points.

The Lumberjacks gave the Jayhawks 23 free throw chances, with Muskegon hitting 16.

Effective ACC perimeter shooters like Gates and Logan Wickert mostly came up empty as the Jayhawks continued to narrow the deficit. Muskegon eventually took the lead with 12:37 left in the game and never lost it.

ACC kept the game within two or three points for several minutes until a Hatter three with 7:10 left in the game took Muskegon to a 67-63 lead. Chase Casebolt hit a second trey 40 seconds later to move the Jayhawks ahead 70-64.

The Lumberjacks continued to run on empty under the basket and desperate three point attempts kept missing. In the last 6:28 of the game, Muskegon outscored ACC 18-7 to pull ahead for the big win.

“We played really well in the first half. We stood around in the second half. Not taking anything away from (Muskegon). They’re a good team and they played hard. But, we’ve got to learn how to put two halves together,” McCourt said.

ACC travels to St. Clair on Jan. 4.

MUSKEGON (88): M. Hatter 5-1-3-14; T. Jones 2-2-3-8; C. Casebolt 5-6-6-19; J. Anderson 6-2-7-14; R. Donely 5-12-18-22; R. Angeli 0-2-2-2; T. Connor 3-0-0-6.

ALPENA (71): T. Howard 7-0-0-18; L. Wickert 1-0-1-3; W. Gates 1-2-3-6; D. Ivery 4-0-0-10; E. Thompson 5-0-0-10; S. Hicks 3-7-8-15; S. Shephard 1-0-2-2; J. Jones 3-1-1-7.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at ebenac@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.