Tough defense leads Wayne past ACC men

Any momentum from the Alpena Community College men’s basketball team’s 69-63 come-from-behind Monday victory over Macomb evaporated on Wednesday in an 80-58 loss against Wayne.

“We didn’t play terrible, but we didn’t play good enough to beat a good basketball team,” ACC coach Frank McCourt said.

The first half swung primarily in Wayne’s favor, as it used aggressive man-to-man and half court presses and traps to force turnovers. It also utilized more successful rebounding to create second and third chance scoring opportunities.

Wayne (13-2, 7-0 Eastern Conference) grabbed 57 rebounds to ACC’s 37.

The Wildcats pulled ahead 13-6 with 16:06 left in the first half as Kevin Tye hit his second of two treys.

The Lumberjacks (4-11, 2-5 Eastern Conference) were able to keep the first half fairly tight as they hit four treys to narrow the spread at key points. Scott Hicks hit two while Travon Howard and Kharri Dailey hit one each.

Howard led the Lumberjacks with 19 points while Hicks had 18. Dailey had nine points.

The Lumberjacks trailed 15-10 after five minutes. ACC started to break the press more successfully using quick passing and careful ball handling around the edges of the court.

ACC’s own man-to-man defense created several turnovers and converted several scoring opportunities.

However, the Lumberjacks ran into foul trouble regularly in the first half and Wayne went 9-for-18 at the free-throw line in the first half.

Wayne hit 25 free throws in the game, while ACC hit four.

ACC stayed eight points behind Wayne toward the end of the half and trailed 40-30 at halftime.

The second half started tight, with ACC and Wayne getting four points a piece in the first two minutes. Stephen Shepherd hit two buckets in 30 seconds, utilizing his 6-6 height advantage to grab his own rebounds.

Wayne held ACC scoreless for the next three minutes as it pulled into a 52-34 lead.

The Wildcats’ success during this three-minute stretch was compelled primarily by Paul Standtke and Montel Williams.

Wayne also pressed hard defensively, rarely holding back on the half court or full court press.

ACC had some success offensively in the later part of the second half, primarily off the late game awakening of Dailey. Dailey hit several jump shots in the post that flew over the outstretched hands of his taller competitors.

Howard also continued to be an offensive presence throughout the half, scoring nine points and consistently helping Dailey set up successful offensive plays.

But even a last second three-pointer from Logan Wickert couldn’t change the tide in a game that simply got away from the Lumberjacks.

“We got beat by a better basketball team. They shot better, they rebounded better and they just played better,” McCourt said.

ACC travels to Mott on Saturday.

WAYNE (80): S. Duncan 4-4 4; K. Tye 3 0-0 6; M. Williams 7 2-4 16; D. Jackson 6 9-11 21; P. Standtke 4 1-2 9; A. Jackson 2 1-2 6; M. Lucas 1 1-2 3; V. Bryant 1 1-4 3; D. Hardges 2 0-0 4; C. Gonzales 2-4 2; D. BoBo 2-2 2; T. Flower 2-2 2; C. Spartlin 1 0-0 2.

ALPENA (55): T. Howard 8 1-5 19; K. Dailey 4 0-0 9; W. Gates 1 0-0 2; S. Hicks 7 2-2 18; S. Shepard 2 0-0 4; L. Wickert 1 0-0 3 K. Bush 1 1-2 3; E. Thompson 1 0-0 2.

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