GENESEO – The double-bonus was a double-whammy for the Geneseo Maple Leafs in their 50-41 boys' basketball loss to the Ottawa Pirates at Geneseo's gym on Friday night.|
Down by 11 with a quarter to go in the Northern Illinois Big 12 game, the Leafs opted to foul in an attempt to get back into the game. Problem was, the second foul by the Leafs in the fourth was their 10th of the half, putting the Pirates in the double bonus – two free throws every time they went to the line.
And they went to the line a lot – 23 times in the quarter, making 19. The Pirates didn't convert a field goal in the fourth, but didn't need to – they only lost two points of that lead with their foul-stripe parade.
"They did a good job of keeping the ball in the hands of the right guys," Geneseo coach Brad Storm said of Ottawa's free-throw-shooting trio of Nick Harsted (9-of-10), Cody Stokes (7-of-8) and John Carroll (3-of-4).
"Teams on rolls find ways to do that. Teams that are not on rolls don't. We've got to find a way to get over that hump."
The win was Ottawa's 12th straight in moving to 16-3, 5-1 in the NIB-12 and staying a game behind LaSalle-Peru. The Leafs, 7-11 and 3-3, have lost nine of their last 10.
"We are now three in back of L-P with four to go, so we've resigned ourselves to the fact that we're not going to win the conference," Storm said. "But we want to work toward regional and have a strong finish. We were picked to finish fifth in the conference and we don't want to live up to that."
To do that, the Leafs have to regain their shooting touch. Just as Ottawa was without a field goal in the fourth quarter, Geneseo was shut out in the category in the second quarter. Conversely, the Leafs struggled at the line then, hitting on 5-of-9 in the frame as they trailed 17-12 at halftime.
"We couldn't get anything to go down in that quarter," Storm said. "We were really struggling. We made no field goals. Just five points isn't going to work."
In fact, the Leafs failed to convert a field goal from the :45 mark of the first quarter – Jordan Starkey's lone basket, a 3-pointer – until the 4:10 mark of the third quarter, a 3 by Jordan Mielke. On baskets inside the arc, the time span between makes was 2:02 in the first quarter until 5:58 in the fourth quarter.
The Leafs were led in scoring by Starkey with 13. He hit 10-of-13 free throws to get there. Ethan Radue added nine points, all in the fourth quarter. Mielke had eight.
Oddly, Harsted and Stokes led the Pirates in scoring with that late free-throw binge. Harsted, with 13 points, had four going into the quarter. Stokes, with 12, had five going in.
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