Poor possessions hurting men
Chris Johnston scores career-high 28 in loss to Ferris
December 5, 2005 —
Chris Johnston found himself an enemy on Saturday: halftime.
The sophomore forward scored 20 points in the first half against Ferris State at home but was held to just three shots and eight points in the second as the Bulldogs defeated the Cardinals 93-71.
Johnston, who came in averaging just 4.2 points per game, shot 7-for-11 in the first half, including eight of ten Cardinals points during a key first half run.
Down 34-27, Johnston made two free throws and two three pointers to tie the game at 39 with 1:27 left in the half.
The Cardinals used the momentum to take a 44-41 lead into the half. But Johnston was held without a shot until the 6:44 mark in the second half as Ferris dominated the stanza 52-27 to win comfortably.
Johnston finished 8-for-14 (2-for-5 from three-point range) and 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
"Chris didn't do a good job of reacting to (his hot shooting)," Cardinals coach Jamie Matthews said. "It's hard to criticize a guy who shot 8-for-14, but he's got to work harder to get to open spots on the floor. He hasn't been in that kind of situation here, but he has to learn from that."
Not many Cardinals players were able to get shots in the second half, as the Bulldogs clamped down on defense and allowed just five field goals on 15 shots. SVSU took 21 free throws in the half, making 17 of them, but Ferris shot a blistering 21-for-33 in the second half for the advantage.
Ferris, who shot just 2-for-8 from three-point range in the first half, converted seven of 13 attempts from the arc in the second half. SVSU hit five of eight first-half three pointers, but shot 0-for-5 in the second half.
Matthews pointed to several times during both halves where the Cardinals failed to get a shot attempt on consecutive possessions. SVSU finished with 19 turnovers.
"It's hard to score when you don't get a shot," Matthews said.
The team had a similar problem last year, without a "go-to" player who could create his own shot when needed. Matthews said that it is difficult to find such a player on a young team this early in the season.
"But we may have found one in Chris Johnston," he added.
Matthews said he felt the defense was effective against the Bulldogs, though Ferris scored more than their average this season. He mentioned the defense's tenacity at getting after shots, but admitted the turnovers made it harder on the other end of the court.
"When you start turning the ball over, they get some easy scores, and they get confidence," he explained.
The Cardinals were done in by the Bulldogs' speedy senior point guard Dennis Springs, who finished with 26 points on 11-for-17 shooting, six assists, and five rebounds. Freshman guard Jessie York gave the Bulldogs a spark off the bench, adding 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-5 from behind the arc, in just 23 minutes.
All four freshmen on the team logged double-digit minutes in the game, including forward Luke Laser and guard Alex Daniel, who was the Cardinals' second leading scorer with 10 points. Daniel also added four assists, eight rebounds and zero turnovers.
"I play the five guys who give us the best chance to win the basketball game," Matthews explained.
The loss, along with an 86-67 setback against Grand Valley State, ranked 24th in the nation, two days earlier, leaves the Cardinals at 2-5 (0-2 GLIAC).
SVSU will host Northern Michigan, 3-3 (1-0 GLIAC) on the season, on Thursday at 8 p.m. and 1-4 (0-1) Michigan Tech on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Matthews said the team will need to continue working on ridding itself of those stretches of inconsistency on offense.
"We go from having momentum to shooting ourselves in the foot," he said. "I'm so excited about our young basketball team. We will be a good team when we can eliminate those stretches."