The Bruins opened their first basketball game of the 2014-15 regular season Saturday with a win against the Crown College Royal Crusaders at the Davis Field House.
Coming off two preseason wins, the Bruins had good reason to feel confident. They continued the winning streak and finished their first home game with an 88-69 victory over Crown College.
The Royal Crusaders were a new challenge to the Bruins. Having never played against each other in previous seasons, the Bruins and Royal Crusaders spent the first few minutes feeling out the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent and trading baskets. The Bruins managed to circulate the ball smoothly and create open shots around the floor, yet the ball constantly eluded the hoop.
Starting 0-6 from behind the three-point line, the Bruins struggled to find their rhythm. Head coach Neal Ring described the early part of the game: “Consistency isn’t a strong point for us now, but we’ve got a lot of new players, so that’s to be expected.”
The Bruins managed to pick up enough points to create a small lead near the end of the half, but the Royal Crusaders hung on. Keeping the Bruins at bay, Crown College forced the Bruins to three straight scoreless possessions at the end of the half. The Bruins went to the locker room with a 29-25 lead over the Royal Crusaders and the knowledge that every play would matter in the next half.
Whatever 3-pointer woes the team had suffered in the first half disappeared in the second. The Bruins shot the lights out by scoring eight out of nine 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes of play. Building off their ability to move the ball and produce scoring opportunities, the Bruins created a 21-point lead. But the Royal Crusaders were not going to let the opponents walk away with an easy victory and hammered away at the Bruins’ defense with 3-pointers and jump shots.
Thanks to consistent free throw shooting and selfless assisting, the Bruins managed to hold on for the lead, and eventually, the win. Five players placed in double-digit scoring, and the Bruins scored twice as many points in the second half as in the first. Junior Kyle Turner led the team with 19 points and two steals. Junior Ray Holden and freshman Dustin Killough each scored 16 points and tallied half of the team’s assists between them.
Coach Ring said he likes the team’s potential. He plans to have the team watch a recording of the game in order to improve what they did well and learn from what they did wrong.
“We are in 100 percent teach mode right now,” Ring said. “Each game for us is all about who is going to play well and step up. We just have to put it all together.”
This being the first game of the season, the Bruins have the potential to learn and grow as individuals and ultimately as a team.