WELLSBURG - Brooke jumped up early on visiting University and had answers for each run the Hawks had in the second half to claim a 66-55 victory Friday night at the Brooke Athletic Complex.
"The thing we try to get our kids to understand is you have to still run your offense even if they're up in your grill and pushing you," said Brooke head coach Dave Reitter response to University's second half push. "You have to be able to handle that and get the ball to the right people. I thought we made some very clutch foul shots down the stretch.
"I thought we did a very good job with that tonight."
The Bruins scored the first six and final eight points of the opening quarter to claim a 22-7 advantage through the first eight minutes. They pushed the lead as high as 28-7 in the second quarter before the Hawks began to settle down and kept things from getting out of hand. The halftime score read 36-18 Brooke.
The first half was dominated by play of Nathan Green on the inside for Brooke. Green had 11 of his game-high 17 points and 11 of his game-high 15 rebounds in the first half to lead the Bruins.
"The way that we played their big men was a problem," said University head coach Paul Ingle. "You can't not get into their body whether it's on the offensive end trying to front them or get them out of the lane or on the defensive end. You've got to make sure that you're physical with these guys and draw some fouls.
Brooke 66, University 55
University 7 11 15 22 - 55
Brooke 22 14 12 18 - 66
UNIVERSITY: Hart 2 0-0 6; Turner 0 3-5 3; Eckels 1 0-0 3; Ridgeway 1 0-0 2; Mitchell 3 2-4 11; Leftridge 2 7-7 12; Gutmann 3 4-7 10; Dixon 0 1-2 1; Martin 0 1-3 1; Warner 1 0-0 3; Lillard 1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 14 18-30 55. 3-POINTERS: 9 (Mitchell 3, Hart 2, Eckels, Leftridge, Warner, Lillard). REBOUNDS: 29 (Warner 7, Eckels 7, Mitchell 4, Leftridge 4). ASSISTS: 5 (Leftridge 2, Turner 2). STEALS: 5 (Leftridge 2, Gutmann 2). BLOCKS: 1 (Ridgeway). TURNOVERS: 11.
BROOKE (5-5): Teaff 0 0-0 0; DeStefano 2 2-2 8; Loughrie 1 2-4 4; Cole 4 4-6 12; Green 8 1-3 17; Schwertfeger 5 4-12 16; Staffileno 0 0-0 0; Sole 0 4-7 4; Barnhart 2 1-1 5. TOTAL: 22 18-35 66. 3-POINTERS: 4 (DeStefano 2, Schwertfeger 2). REBOUNDS: 39 (Green 15, Cole 14, Schwertfeger 5). ASSISTS: 12 (Schwertfeger 5, Cole 2; Green 2). STEALS: 7 (DeStefano 2, Green 2). BLOCKS: 3 (Green 2, Schwertfeger). TURNOVERS: 11.
"We just didn't get physical enough early enough."
Throughout the third quarter University wasn't able to get closer than 13 as the Bruins hit a big shot to answer every time the Hawks seemed to gather momentum. At the close of the third the score stood 48-33 Bruins.
The fourth quarter looked much like the third as each time University had some momentum the Bruins had an answer. Finally, with under a minute left in the action the Hawks pulled within single-digits at 61-52, but the Bruins again answered. They received a pair of foul shots from Nick DeStefano to move the lead back to 11, and after Tyler Hart hit a three for University to make it 63-55, Thomas Cole hit a free throw and Justin Loughrie had an offensive put back to end the drama.
Cole joined Green with a big game on the inside for the Bruins with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Point guard Russell Schwertfeger added an outside threat for Brooke with 16 points, five boards, and five assists. On the defensive end Green and DeStefano each had two steals and Green added a pair of blocks.
"I think we had the advantage on the inside with Nathan and Thomas Cole," Reitter. "Our guards did what we try to get them to understand. To try and get the ball into the bigs. I thought Nathan had an early first quarter and Thomas filled in after that. They had to adjust. Their adjustment was to come out and harass our guards more than they had before.
"They came out in a zone, we tried to get the ball inside, and it worked for us."
University was led by Jeffrey Leftridge with 12 points, four boards, two assists, and two steals. Collin Mitchell added 11 points and four rebounds with Grant Gutmann scoring 10 points and two steals. B.J. Warner and Jeremy Eckels shared top rebound honors for University with seven boards each.
Brooke (5-5) is in action again today when it travels to Indian Creek for a 1 p.m. start.