Punchless Cats stumble in ugly second half
The up side -- and an up side wasn't exactly easy to find following Monday's game -- is that it doesn't appear to be a trend.
De Soto coach Dwight Spencer said he'd never seen his team play so bad, and he was confident they wouldn't explore such depths again any time soon.
"That's the worse performance they've had," he said. "I know they won't accept it. They are too driven to accept that performance."
A dozen ugly stats could tell the tale of De Soto's 48-29 loss to Belmont in the first round of the Louisburg Tournament.
Few tell the story as well as the number four.
Four. De Soto made four field goals in the first 28 minutes of the loss. The Cats didn't score a point in the third quarter and didn't make their first second-half basket until more than halfway through the fourth.
"More than scoring, it was that we just didn't get good shots because we didn't run things," Spencer said. "We didn't run offenses and sets the way we've been taught. We didn't make sharp cuts. We didn't make sharp passes."
Perhaps making the loss -- and in particular the anemic second half scoring effort -- more frustrating was the momentum De Soto seemed to have before halftime.
Down 13-6 at the end of the first quarter, Jackie Goleman and Kira Gonzalez each scored and the Cats hit 7-of-10 free throws in the second quarter to close the gap, tying the game at 14 and 16 and going into the half with a manageable 3-point gap to bridge.
Even more positive was the manner in which the free throws came. Belmont committed 13 fouls in the first half and found most of its top players warming the bench with two and three fouls.
"That's where we let the game get away from us, even more so than the third quarter," Spencer said. "If we do what we should have done in the last half of the first quarter and in the second quarter, we should have had a 10-point lead going into halftime, then we can weather things a lot better in the third quarter."
De Soto couldn't take advantage, however, starting its long streak without a field goal after Gonzalez's bucket in the second period's opening minutes.
The scoring wasn't the entire story either. The Cats also struggled on the boards all evening. Belmont tallied 21 offensive rebounds, resulting in nine second-chance points.
It amounted to another stat that pointed to the overall problem, Spencer said.
"It was ridiculous, the number of offensive rebounds they had. It'd probably take two pencils to do those stats," he said. "We weren't confident shooting the ball. We weren't cutting hard or sharp. All that goes back to intensity. That affects your shooting too because you're not into that game as much as you should be."
As for the future -- De Soto played Osawatomie Wednesday in Louisburg, but results were unavailable at press time -- Spencer said he had genuine reason to be confident, even moments after walking from the in-the-dumps post-game locker room.
"I love this group of kids," he said. "Their character is as good as any I've ever coached and I sure anticipate them bouncing back with a great effort. Win or lose, I anticipate them coming with a great effort.
"It will have very little to do with me. Those players, inside, internally, know they want to be good at anything they do and this is just one thing, and they won't accept it."