GEORGETOWN, Texas – In basketball, generally defense leads to offense. In the Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball's 102-90 win over the Concordia Tornados, it was the other way around.
The Pirates started the game ice cold, shooting 5-for-20 over the first 11 minutes. The ball moved with life to find open 3-pointers only to die at the rim. Southwestern hit just one of its eight 3-pointers over that time, emboldening Concordia's defense to converge on drives.
Seven offensive rebounds in the first 10 minutes kept the Pirates afloat through stormy beginnings, even as the defense struggled to plug early leaks.
Putting the ball through the net allows the Pirates to get into their zone press and set its half-court defense, dictating the terms of engagement instead of reacting.
With Southwestern University's early offensive struggles, the Tornados were able to grab the ball and run before the Pirates could organize, giving themselves enough time on the shot clock to seek their preferred matchups. With that, Concordia was able to puncture the Southwestern defense off the bounce. Joe Neal used a quick first step and strong strides to get to the rim, scoring nine early points on four shots.
To find calm waters, the Pirates first had to start raining 3-pointers.
Down 22-13 coming out of a timeout at the 9:10 mark in the first half, Kyle Poerschke hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Trenton Garrett, working out of the short roll in the pick-and-roll game. With the defense given an opportunity to set itself, the Pirates harassed Andrew Rios into a double dribble on the sidelines. Poerschke then found Brandon Alexander for another open 3-pointer.
The shots started to trickle in until the entire dam burst. The Pirates worked dribble handoffs and drive and kicks to open 3-pointers. They pressed the advantage on the defensive end, forcing 14 first-half turnovers, including eight steals, passing ahead for fast break layups and long-range shots.
After shooting 25 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the free-throw line in the first 10 minutes, the Pirates found their rhythm, hitting 7-for-12 from deep after starting 1-for-8 to take a 55-33 lead into the break.
In the second half, Southwestern managed to keep the Tornados at bay, answering each Concordia run with a few scoring blitzes of their own. Jake Holmes wore down the Tornado's smaller frontcourt, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half, shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-6 from the free-throw line after the break and finished the game with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Southwestern University's offense was crisp at times, triggering a defensive breakdown and then moving the ball one pass ahead of Concordia's rotations to finish with a season-high 26 assists on their 37 made field goals.
Alexander led four Pirates in double figures with 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting (including 5-for-11 from deep), nine rebounds, three assists and two steals. Luke Hicks scored 10 points and eight rebounds, driving and kicking for five assists. Joel Martinez had 19 off the bench, shooting 6-for-8 (3-for-4 from long range).
Joe Neal led Concordia with 22 points and eight rebounds. Ephriam Price III had 15 points on 14 shots and Charles Rambo III had 10 points off the bench.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 3-1 on the season, dropping Concordia to 1-3. Southwestern to action on Saturday, Nov. 24 with a road game against Mary Hardin-Baylor at 6:00 p.m., then return to host McMurry University on Monday, Nov. 26 at 7:00 p.m.