The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team completed an undefeated non-conference season on Saturday in the final game of the Hutchinson Clinic Classic as the Blue Dragons took over a tied game with Hill College in the final five minutes to defeat the Rebels 76-69 at the Sports Arena.
The No. 4-ranked Blue Dragons are 14-0 to complete non-conference play. HCC is off to its sixth-best start to a season in team history. Hutchinson is now off until Jan. 5 when it opens play in the Jayhawk West at Dodge City and opens at the Sports Arena on Jan. 7 vs. Garden City.
Head coach Steve Eck won his 92nd game on the Blue Dragon bench, which moved him alone into seventh place on the all-time Blue Dragon coaching list past Steve McClain.
Saturday’s game featured 13 lead changes and seven ties. The game was tied 60-all with exactly five minutes to go when the Blue Dragons went on a 7-0 run over the next 1 minute, 39 seconds. An inside hoop from Alex Davis, a three-point play from Rozell Nunn and a steal and dunk from Kadeem Allen gave HCC a 67-60 lead with 3:02 to play in the game.
Another Nunn three-point play pushed the lead to 70-62 with 2:36 to go. The Rebels answered with back-to-back buckets to get back within 70-66 with 1:49 to go. The Dragons, who were ice cold from the free-throw line missing 14 of their first 24 attempts, knocked down their final 10 free throws in a row to seal the victory.
Allen became the fourth different Blue Dragon this season to post a double-double with season-highs 25 points and 10 rebounds. Allen also added five assists and two steals to his stat line.
Five Blue Dragons scored in double figures.
Freshman Tafari Whittingham came off the bench to score 11 points. Sophomores D’Von Campbell, A.J. Spencer and Nunn all had 10 points each. Nunn had a career-high nine rebounds and totaled 19 rebounds in two games over the weekend.
Davis added nine points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
The Blue Dragons shot 28 of 66 overall (42.4 percent), but were shut out from 3-point range for the second time this season, going 0 of 5. HCC was 20 of 34 from the foul line. HCC committed only 13 turnovers.
Hill out-shot and out-rebounded the Blue Dragons. The Rebels finished at 46.0 percent (29 of 63), going 4 of 18 from 3-point range and 7 of 14 from the foul line. Hill had a 46-38 rebounding advantage, but committed 22 turnovers.
Devin Delaney had 14 points to lead Hill (10-6). Andrew Guillory had 12 points and Tramique Sutherland added 10.
Neither team could build more than a six-point lead in a tightly contested first half. Campbell’s layup gave Hutchinson an 11-5 lead with 14:04 to play in the opening half. With HCC up 16-11, Hill scored six in a row to take a 17-16 lead on a Guillory bucket with 9:45 to play. HCC answered with its own 5-0 run capped on a Whittingham dunk to give Hutch a 22-17 lead with 7:43 remaining.
The lead changed hands three more times in the next several minutes. A Spencer basket with 4:43 left gave Hutch a 24-23 lead. HCC pushed it out to 30-25 after a Whittingham layup with 40 seconds left, but Delaney buried a 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go to trim the Hutchinson lead to 30-28 at halftime.
Scoring the first two field goals of the second half, HCC upped the lead to six at 34-28, but Hill never relented. The lead changed handed seven more times in the second half.
A Javonte Douglas dunk gave Hill a 58-56 lead with 6;42 to play. A Nunn field goal and two Davis free throws gave Hutch a 60-58 lead with 5:18 to go, but Hill tied the game at 60-all on a Douglas inside hoop.
That is the point where the Blue Dragons surged.
Davis rebounded his own miss and scored on a putback and Hutchinson immediately called a timeout with 4:31 to go. The Dragons built the lead to 67-60 and 70-62 before the Rebels forced two-straight HCC turnovers to pull within 70-66 with 1:49 to play. The Dragons turned the ball over once again, but Davis erased a Rebel scoring opportunity with his fourth blocked shot of the game. HCC got two free throws from Spencer and four from Allen to seal the victory.
GAME NOTES – This was all-time program win No. 1,611. … HCC is now 5-1 all-time vs. Hill College with five-straight victories over the Rebels. … Head coach Steve Eck is now 37-1 at Hutchinson against non-Jayhawk Conference teams. … HCC is 13-0 at the Sports Arena this season. … Saturday’s game was the third time behind out-shot and sixth time being out-rebounded this season.
(HCC Sports Information)