Team faces Victoria College Wednesday in Candler.
By Alejandro Diaz
The Rangers punished the Saints in a blowout 88-55 Nov. 4 at Our Lady of the Lake University.
This marked the second win and the second by a large margin for this college’s men’s basketball team.
The Rangers had beaten Palo Alto College’s Palominos by 24 points Oct. 28 in Candler Physical Education Center and continued their winning path on the road.
After falling behind 5-0 in the first three minutes against OLLU, the Rangers had a 10-0 run to take the lead. They never relinquished it.
It was a team effort by the Rangers, as each player scored at least 3 points, showing efficient ball movement and helping each other to put defensive pressure on the Saints.
The Rangers seemed to have learned a lesson from their losses against the University of the Incarnate Word and Northwest Vista College when they led at halftime and during a stretch of the second half, but were unable to hold on for the win.
In this game as well as against Palo Alto, the Rangers never let the opponent off the mat, taking commanding leads in the second half and cruising to a win.
Coach Louis Martinez said in an interview after the game that it’s important to learn how to put away games when the team holds a lead at the half.
“In situations like that when we are up 15 or 14 points, it’s really easy to just relax,” Martinez said. “We’ve done it before; we’ve been up, we had the lead, so now we’re just learning how to finish games.”
The Saints used the energy from their home crowd as fuel to a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes, but that didn’t hold for long.
Kinesiology sophomore Derick Johnson completed a rare 4-point play with 16:37 left in the first half that capped a 10-0 run, as the Rangers took control of the game and never looked back.
Saints guard Keaven Chestant responded with a layup that cut the lead to 10-7, but that was the closest the Saints were the rest of the game.
Both teams turned up the intensity as they displayed fast-paced possessions, with the Rangers making the most of them, as the Rangers slowly extended their lead to double digits.
A steal by applied science freshman Eric Contero unleashed a fast break that he turned into a layup, and the Rangers took an 11-point lead.
As the home crowd kept cheering on the Saints, the Rangers didn’t let the foot off the gas.
After split free throws by criminal justice sophomore John McVea and a 3-pointer in the following possession by kinesiology sophomore Cody Hastings, the Rangers took a 15-point lead that forced the Saints coach to call for a timeout.
The Rangers led at halftime 41-27.
Both teams came out in the second half energized as they traded baskets in the first four minutes.
The Rangers, however, started controlling the tempo of the game with quality possessions, always looking for the open man, which helped them build a 22-point lead with 14 minutes remaining.
The bleeding continued for the Saints despite trying to stop the clock by fouling the Rangers, sending them to the free-throw line.
The Rangers shot 82 percent from the free-throw line, pulling away in the final 10 minutes and leading by as much as 36 points.
For the Rangers, Contero led the scoring with 18 points, including 11 in the second half. Liberal arts freshman Stockton Perry added 9 points off the bench, all 3-pointers.
“We went back and we worked on a lot of attacking,” Martinez said. “We struggled a lot against UIW when they went to the 2-3 zone, so we’ve been working on attacking the zone, getting layups, sometimes getting open shots, but not trying to concentrate too much on those shots.”
The win improves the Rangers’ record to 2-4.
The Rangers look to continue their winning streak when they host Victoria College Wednesday in Candler.