COOS BAY — There was one key play on the mind of the SWOCC men’s basketball team after Saturday’s 76-69 home win over Clark. It wasn’t one of Terryn Mosley’s rim-rocking dunks or the clutch buckets down the stretch.
It was a defensive stand from Javon Moore.
Moore, who came off the bench for eight total minutes, checked in on defense after a SWOCC made free throw put the Lakers up six with 49 seconds to play. Clark’s Colton Gorski swung the ball to Sean Johnson who bobbled the ball and before he could grab it, it was Moore diving to the ground to record a steal, call a timeout and help seal the league victory for the Lakers.
“Diving on the floor, making that stop ... was just giant. And such a play that really helped get us the victory there at the end,” said SWOCC head coach Trevor Hoppe. “Everybody’s energy level went up and everybody’s confidence went up. Everyone was just like hey, let’s make these free throws and get another stop. It really gave us some momentum.”
With a defensive surge, SWOCC secured the win and moved to 1-1 in NWAC South Region play.
“Just feels good. It’s what we’re here to do especially on our home court. Now we’re just looking forward to the next game,” said Mosley, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
While the late steal helped ice the game, it was Mosley’s play throughout the second half that helped put the Lakers in position to win. Trailing 49-44 in the second half, SWOCC used team defense and 10 points from Mosley to go on a 14-2 run to take a 58-51 lead.
“My teammates were doing a really good job of setting me up, giving me good looks and I just knocked them down,” said Mosley, who mixed in a sampling of mid-range jumpers to go with his ability to get to the rim.
Continuing to fight, Clark sparked a run of its own to take a 62-61 lead with under six minutes to play. But as the Lakers answered Mosley came up with consecutive possessions that finished in a lay-up from the block, a thunderous tomahawk dunk through the lane and a tip-in to give SWOCC a 70-64 advantage.
“He got it going. That was the thing, we wanted to be more aggressive to the basket in the second half and I thought we did a nice job of that,” Hoppe said of Mosley’s play down the stretch.
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To close out the game, the Lakers relied on the free-throw line where the team finished 13-of-18.
In the game that included eight lead changes and neither team leading by more than seven points, it was the Penguins challenging the Lakers in the first half. Moving the ball well early, Clark was poised to take a lead to the half before the Lakers dug in on defense.
“The toughness we showed was really impressive. The guys just battled. Our bigger guys, our fours, were just laying it on the line out there and I thought our guards were out there defending, too. I thought it was a really good defensive effort,” said Hoppe.
Making the offense go was point guard Jael Vaughn, who finished with 19 points (including eight-of-11 from the foul line), four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Vaughn was one of four Lakers in double figures as Mack Tarver Jr. finished with 13 points — 10 in the first half — and Ryan Bell added 13 points.
Echoing his coach, Vaughn was most impressed with how the Lakers were able to play defense.
“We’ve been preaching defense the whole time. Everybody, at the college level can score the basketball,” said Vaughn. “But if the whole team tuned in on defense, we can get a stop.”
Clark’s Matt Garrison led the Penguins with 17 points. Zach Rivers added 12 while Kevin Robello had 11 in 15 minutes of action and Gorski had 10. Clark shot 40 percent from the field and SWOCC finished at 46 percent.
The Lakers now prepare for Lane (10-4) in Eugene on Wednesday before a flurry of games.
“We’re going to go next Wednesday, Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday. The games are coming,” said Hoppe.
“It’s just nice to protect the home court and catch our breath and let’s keep this going. We go on the road on Wednesday and those are always tough but I know they’re going to be ready for it.”