TAYLORSVILLE In a matter of 20 basketball minutes Saturday, the SLCC men's hoops team turned what would've been the biggest upset loss in school history into the biggest comeback win.
Keeping its Scenic West regular-season championship hopes alive, the Bruins outscored Colorado Northwestern Community College by 35 points in a huge second-half rally to escape with an 87-77 win at the Lifetime Activities Center.
It wasn't exactly the type of game you'd expect considering the fifth-ranked Bruins (25-1, 10-1 SWAC) were playing a team that came in with three wins this season, zero victories against SLCC all-time and, oh yeah, fresh memories of a 48-point loss Friday.
Nevertheless, the Spartans (3-19, 1-10) appeared to be on the brink of the unthinkable. While SLCC played uncharacteristically sluggish defense and shaky offense, CNCC hit 70 percent of its shots while bursting out to a shocking 25-point lead at halftime.
And, no, the Bruins weren't purposely trying to spot the Spartans a big lead to make things interesting.
"They shot lights out and we just had no intensity," said SLCC coach Norm Parrish, who was also disappointed how the Bruins settled for jumpers and had careless turnovers.
"We came out really slow. We weren't intense. We didn't play hard defense. We let them have wide-open shots," said SLCC guard Brian Green. "We just thought we could come in here and show up and obviously we didn't. And they came out hard and they played really good."
In Parrish's words, the second half was the "antithesis" of the first half. SLCC held CNCC to just 31 percent shooting, and consistently carved away at the huge lead. Green (22 points), DaVell Jackson (20), Vassy Banny (16) and Papa Samba Guisse (11 points and 11 rebounds) all scored the bulk of their points after halftime as momentum quickly shifted.
Guisse gave the Bruins the lead for good with 5 1/2 minutes left on a putback and a free throw, and SLCC finished on a 9-0 run by holding the Spartans scoreless for the final four minutes and 20 seconds. The Bruins shot 67.7 percent in the second half while outscoring CNCC 56-21.
Must have been quite the halftime speech by Parrish, right?
"I didn't get too much after them," he said. "Sometimes I yell and spit, but today I just told kind of told them it was embarrassing and a disgusting display of basketball."
"Usually he yells at us," Green added with a smile, "but he said it's not even worth yelling at you guys."
Instead, Parrish reminded the Bruins that a 25-point play doesn't exist and encouraged them to focus on small chunks get it down to 20, then 15, then single digits.
"And that's what we did," Green said. "We weren't nervous. We were just (ticked) off how bad we were playing, so we just wanted to turn around and get right back out there and get a win."
The win sets up a big weekend for SLCC, which travels to the top-ranked and undefeated College of Southern Idaho for Friday and Saturday games.
CEU 64, NORTH IDAHO 61: At Price, Rafael Moreira scored 10 points and had seven rebounds and Darington Hobson pulled down 10 boards with six points to lead the Golden Eagles.
CSI 107, SNOW 81: At Twin Falls, Idaho, Rory Patterson scored 22 points with seven rebounds and Ryan Brimley had 19 points in the Badgers' loss.
SLCC 93, CNCC 27: At Taylorsville, Nicole Brady scored 16 points off the bench to lead five Bruins in double figures in the blowout. Breanne Haslam and Allie Lunt each added 14 points, Krista Farr chipped in with 13 and Keshia Catten had 11 against the 0-20 Spartans.
NIC 66, CEU 47: At Price, Erin Richardson had 12 points, but the Golden Eagles struggled at home against the Cardinals.CSI DEF. SNOW: At Twin Falls, Idaho, the Badgers fell for the second time in as many days to the fourth-ranked Golden Eagles.