CAMDEN, Ark. — The Raiders came up just short in a game of runs against Southern Arkansas University Tech.
After the Raiders had taken a four-point lead with an 11-0 run that started with around six minutes left in the game, the Rockets responded with an 18-4 run to close out the game and deal the Raiders their fourth straight loss, 92-82.
Freshman Tallon Fonda dislocated his finger early in the second half and was sidelined for the remainder of the game. Fonda had gotten off to a strong start with 12 points on a 5 for 9 shooting clip in 17 minutes.
"We actually took him to the ER down there, and they already have it set and everything. It wasn't broken, so I don't know what that means (for his status) exactly, but I would say he'll be able to play pretty quick," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said.
After he went down, the shorthanded Raiders (6-9) had no answer for Jaland Mitchell inside and on the glass. Mitchell tallied his second double-double of the year, scoring 37 points and grabbing 16 rebounds for season highs in both categories.
"We just didn't have anybody to guard him," Bess said. "We tried everybody. We were trying to figure out who to guard him, and about everybody took turns trying to guard him. It wasn't that he was very big, but he was bigger than us and a pretty good player."
Tristan Jarrett took a couple of falls in the first half and had to exit the game momentarily but didn't sit out for long as he logged 32 minutes. The nation's leader in scoring average scored six points in the first half but caught fire in the second. He scored 20 points in the second half to bring his total to a team-high 26, two below his season average of 28.2 coming into the game. He added seven rebounds and five assists to lead the Raiders in both categories.
Down 12 points, Jarrett scored 12 straight for the Raiders to pull them back within striking distance. Sheldon Stevens kept knocking down 3s, though, to match Jarrett's production, and Mitchell kept working inside as the two were able to keep the Rockets (7-6) ahead.
Three Rivers took the lead and had all of the momentum on its side after a 14-0 run gave the visitors their first lead since the score was 33-32 late in the first half. Miganeh Jama and Mandarius Dickerson buried back-to-back 3s to get the run started, and Jama finished it off with a layup to put the Raiders ahead by four points late in the game.
Then, the Rockets began to double-team Jarrett and continued to rely on Mitchell inside since the Raiders didn't have any bigs left to matchup with him, and the 11-0 run to clinch the game followed.
Seventeen offensive rebounds from the Rockets hurt the Raiders, leading to 17 second-chance points for the hosts and 14 more shot attempts. The Raiders were also hurt by 27 turnovers, which led to 31 points for the Rockets.
"They pressed us, and we've got guys playing out of position," Bess said. "We had to play (guard Abiodun Ayetimiyi) in the post, you know, a 6-foot postman. We had them playing positions that they've never played in their life, I guess, and we didn't handle the ball well, and we didn't rebound well.
"Those are two things in basketball you've got to do."
With an increased workload due to the absence of Jay Hines and Austin Parker, Jama and Khalil Johnson saw a boost in their minutes and production. Jama finished with a season-high 13 points in 25 minutes. Johnson tied his season-high with 13 points in a starting role.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic