The team looks to rebound against Trinity University Feb. 21.
What started as a tightly contested defensive battle in the first half quickly got out of hand in the second, resulting in the Rangers losing to Palo Alto College 112-89 Feb. 14 in Candler Physical Education Center.
Kinesiology freshman Jeremiah DeLuna, the Palo Alto Palominos guard, led all scorers with 37 points.
DeLuna did most of his damage from beyond the arc, hitting 11 3-pointers to go along with two 2-point field goals.
DeLuna wears No. 5 for the Palominos but criminal justice freshman Michael Merchant, guard for the Rangers, said he was the No. 1 problem for the team defensively.
“We just have to get a hand up on No. 5 because he had that stroke,” he said. “Offensively we just need to move the ball and play as a team. Get that extra pass.”
Merchant scored 11 points on three 2-point field goals, one 3-pointer and two of two free-throw shooting.
Rangers’ head coach Sam Casey said the team tried four different defenders on DeLuna throughout the game.
“He was hitting shots from three to five feet behind the line,” Casey said. “He’s an outstanding player. We didn’t have an answer for it, and my hat goes off to them.”
Rangers’ assistant coach Nick Padron said the Rangers played well on defense in the first half but a lack of closing out on shooters in the second allowed Palo Alto to make shots and gain confidence.
“Defensively we needed to mirror exactly what we did the first half,” he said. “Unfortunately, early in the second half they knocked down shots, and it just took us out of rhythm.”
Psychology freshman Hyshoné Fisher, team captain and guard, led the Rangers in scoring with 25 points.
Fisher made four 2-point field goals, four 3-pointers and connected on five of eight free throw attempts.
Fisher said a lack of communication on transition defense was the Rangers’ biggest problem.
“We weren’t finding our man in transition,” he said. “We let five get way too many transition open 3 threes. We just have to stay focused in the game and stay focused on the key player that is hitting those shots.”
Casey said his players wanted to make a statement against Palo Alto, but the Palominos had other ideas.
“I was really happy with the effort in the first half, but as Gen. Tommy Franks said in his book ‘the enemy gets a vote,’” he said.
“Palo Alto got a vote, they cast it, they hit a lot of threes and they got the win.”
The team’s next game is on the road against Trinity University 8 p.m. Feb. 21 in Webster Gymnasium.