The SAU Tech Rockets began playing the NJCAA Division II Region II with a solid win against Northern Arkansas on January 14th. With that tough loss on the back of their minds, the Rockets were considering a home run against the National Park College Nighthawks last Saturday. This would be a game for the Rockets to return to the top of the region to clinch their third consecutive regional title this season. The Rockets knew they had a solid plan to face a tough matchup against National Park College. After a tenacious first half, the offense recovered as the Rockets won 68-48.
Both teams presented strong defensive matchups to start the game. The Rockets were able to force premature shots and bad passes that led to long plays that didn’t bring the Nighthawks points. SAU Tech’s offense met National Park College’s tough zone defense as the Rockets struggled to get into scoring situations.
With 8 minutes and 16 seconds of play in the first, the Rockets led 8-4. It was a testament to how aggressively both the Rockets and Nighthawks held back in the first half without being overly fouled, and two minutes into game time, the NightHawks pulled off the Rockets’ passing scheme. Read on, NightHawks beat the Rockets 5-0 on him.
Throughout the second half of the first half of play, SAU Tech reached the basket more consistently behind strong plays from guard Allen Taylor and forward Dante Johnson. SAU Tech made 10 of 27 field goals and 2 of 2 at the free-throw line in the first half. National Park College shot 8/28 on field goals, 3-pointers 2/9 on the arc, and 5/9 on the free-throw line.
Ending halftime with a 26-25 lead, SAU Tech looked to make more important passes against the Nighthawks’ aggressive defense. One of his key aspects is the Rockets played fast through transition. With just over 10 minutes of play in the second half, the Rockets outscored the Nighthawks, 26-15. SAU Tech’s proficiency in transitioning to the other side of the court will continue to rise on defense.In the final nine minutes and 46 seconds of play, the Rockets allowed only eight points while scoring 16 points. In the second half, the Rockets shot 16-of-37 on field goals and recorded 5-of-8 on the free-throw line. They held the Nighthawks 9-of-26 on field goals and 4-of-13 on three-point arcs.
Sophomore guard Allen Taylor had a dominant performance on both ends of the court. He also recorded eight rebounds, six steals, and two assists. Sophomore forward D’Aunte Johnson put in an outstanding performance in the paint on both sides of the court. Johnson shot 7-of-10 on field goals, scored 17 points, and had 10 rebounds, blocks, and steals.
SAU Tech (15-7; 2-1) will have another big road test next Thursday with the Southern Arkansas Community College Stars (8-7; 1-2).
Print Headline: SAU Tech Overcomes Defensive Struggle to Beat National Park 68-48