PARK CITY – The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball season came to an end on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Region VI Tournament, falling to Cowley College 61-52 at Hartman Arena.
The 20th-ranked Blue Dragons finish the 2011-12 season with a 25-7 record. HCC finished second in the Jayhawk West and had won 10 of 11 games entering play on Sunday.
The Blue Dragons produced their lowest offensive output of the season. HCC also had season lows of 1 of 13 3-point shooting and nine free throws.
Hutchinson led by as many as 12 points in the first half and Cowley battled back to tie the game at 23-all by halftime thanks in part to a Blue Dragon scoreless drought of 7 minutes, 56 seconds. That was HCC’s largest lead of the season surrendered in a loss.
Sophomore Anthony Thomas led Hutchinson with 13 points and nine rebounds before fouling out of the game. Sophomore Michael Spease added 10 points.
Sophomore Mark Braden closed out his Blue Dragon career with eight points and five rebounds. Freshman Alex Davis had seven points and eight boards.
The Dragons shot 37.5 percent for the game (21 of 56) and 9 of 17 from free-throw line. The Blue Dragons out-rebounded Cowley (23-9) 43-31, but that advantage was offset by 16 turnovers. HCC forced only eight Tiger turnovers.
Cowley outscored HCC 21-6 in points off turnovers.
Defensively, the Blue Dragons held Cowley to 35.3 percent (18 of 51), but the Tigers knocked down 7 of 21 3-pointers and 18 of 27 from the free-throw line.
Kamren Belin scored 18 points to lead Cowley, hitting two big 3-pointers and 8 of 12 from the free-throw line. Adonis Bailey had 16 points and six boards.
The Blue Dragons got off to a tremendous start, scoring 17 of the game’s first 22 points over the first 7 minutes and 17 seconds of the game. HCC’s first two scores of the game came from putbacks, Thomas had a 3-pointer and Braden’s two free throws with 12:43 to go gave Hutchinson a 17-5 lead.
HCC then went cold, missing its next 10 shots of the game in going scoreless for 7 minutes, 56 seconds. Cowley didn’t take advantage right away, scoring only eight unanswered points over that stretch. The cushion dwindled to 17-13 when Braden finally scored with 4:47 to play. Cowley then went on another 8-0 run, this time taking a 21-19 lead on two Belin free throws.
Trailing 23-21, but Blue Dragons knotted the game when Spease slashed to the lane and pulled up for a bucket with 4 seconds to play in the half and tie the score at 23-all at halftime.
The Blue Dragons turned the ball over on their first second-half possession and Cowley scored the first five points of the period. A Belin 3-pointer with 15:17 to play pushed the Cowley lead to seven the 36-29.
Hutchinson went on an 8-2 run, pulling within 38-37 on a Thomas hoop with 13:02 to go.
The Blue Dragons had the game at one possession on three different occasions, but had just two field goals in the final 6 minutes, 43 seconds of the game and Cowley closed out the game at the free-throw line.
In the second half, HCC was just 7 of 15 from the foul line compared to Cowley’s 15 of 23 showing at the line.
Cowley advances to play Barton on Monday in the Region VI semifinals.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 116-43 all time in Region VI competition. … HCC is now 79-40 vs. Cowley and 10-7 against the Tigers in Region VI games. … Alex Davis finishes this season with 16 blocked shots, which is eighth on the single-season list and fourth on the freshman list. … Ryan Schultz finished with eight or more rebounds in eight of his last 12 games. … HCC is 17-4 when out-rebounding an opponent.
(HCC Sports Information)