Bears lose steam late, fall to Ranger’s rally

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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Hoping to close out the regular season with a win and build some momentum heading into the playoffs, the Bears made the long trek north Monday to Senatobia to face Northwest Miss. And despite getting off to a strong start, they could not slow down a late Ranger rally, falling 85-78.

“I’m proud of my guys for playing hard and not quitting,” SMCC head coach Bryan Bender said. “We got some big minutes from some big guys (but) it was a really frustrating night.”

Early on, the Bears (15-8, 8-6) got its offense going with 3-pointers from Demarcus Ellzey and Zach Shugars and a pair of layups from Quez Fountain. Others joined the fray as Zae Blake had a 3-point play while Trent Coleman showed his long-range skills with a 3 of his own.

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By the 5:34 mark, yet another 3-pointer from Ellzey gave the Bears their largest lead of the night at 13 at 27-14.

However, it wasn’t long before that lead began dwindling away. A little over two minutes later in game time, SMCC’s lead was reduced to just five at 29-24 and with a minute to go it was cut to two.

Makes by Shugars and Blake pushed the lead back to seven at the half.

A little more than four minutes into the second half, the Bear lead disappeared as the Rangers stormed back and jumped back ahead.

The Northwest surge could not be slowed by Southwest as the hosts ballooned their lead to a double-digit one just a few minutes afterward.

At the 8:20 mark, the Bears trailed by 18. However, they began to claw their way back into the contest. Makes by Coleman and Fountain and Shugars were key as Southwest pulled within three with 1:42 to go. But that was as close as the Bears got for the remainder of the evening as the Rangers walked away with the win.

Fountain finished with 20 points to lead the Bears while Shugars had 17, Blake 12 and Ellzey 11.