It's hard to beat a team twice. It's even harder when shots stop falling and the opponents are getting the key rebounds.
That's what the Raiders found out Saturday in their first game inside the Libla Family Sports Complex.
The Raiders held a six-point lead against State Fair after Miganeh Jama knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers just over halfway through the second half. Those 3s were the Raiders' only makes from behind the arc in the second half as they went cold from the floor after the sequence.
The Roadrunners then ran rampant, hitting 3 after 3 and shot after shot as they went on an 18-1 run that spanned approximately five minutes. Three Rivers never recovered and dropped its first game inside the Libla Family Sports Complex 79-71. The loss is the Raiders' fourth straight in-region loss after a 2-0 start.
"They hit some key shots to stay in the game, and then we had a stretch there where we didn't take care of the ball, and they scored two or three 3s off of it," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "That was a turning point in the game. … Wasn't a whole lot we could do about it."
Tristan Jarrett led all scorers with 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes. He struggled from the 3-point line with a 1 of 10 clip from beyond the arc despite earning his ninth double-double of the season.
With 2:17 left and the Raiders trailing by seven, it looked like Jarrett had a steal and an easy layup in the backcourt on an inbounds pass. The referee, though, said that Tallon Fonda stepped on the baseline, which is a technical foul. Instead of the steal and bucket, the Roadrunners kept the ball after getting a free point at the charity stripe.
"They made a couple bad calls and we put our heads down; we just gave up," Jarrett said. "We've gotta play the whole game. We play the whole game and we can beat anybody. We just played the first half. The second half, we just gave up."
That play helped stifle a comeback attempt as State Fair went on to knock down four more free throws in the final minute to come away with the win.
The biggest problem for the Raiders on offense was a cold spell that hit them during the second half. In the final 20 minutes, Three Rivers, which relies heavily on its ability to knock down shots and play fast, shot 8 of 36 (22.2 percent) from deep for the night and 2 of 14 (14.3 percent) in the second half.
"It was a bad night. Just gotta get in the gym tomorrow and work on it," Jarrett said.
Defensively, the Raiders again struggled to rebound. They were minus-11 on the glass, down from their season average of minus-five, and allowed 13 offensive rebounds. They came away with 14 offensive boards themselves, but State Fair held a 15 to eight advantage in second-chance points.
"The word is out," Bess said. "We're soft on the boards. There was one stretch where Austin (Parker) really played well, but we couldn't get that kind of consistent play out of anybody. And Tristan, he was kind of a one-man show tonight. Nobody else was contributing a whole lot."
State Fair's depth paid dividends down the stretch as the Roadrunners tallied 48 bench points. Three Rivers had 18, a dozen of which came from Jama. The Raiders scored 22 points off 24 forced turnovers but couldn't overcome their shooting woes to pick up a win.
The Raiders will try to bounce back with a trip to St. Louis Community College Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Nate Fields = Daily American Republic