Hutchinson CC Sports Information
Hutchinson Community College head men's basketball coach Steve Eck broke a 61-year-old record and the No. 11-seed Blue Dragons defeated the Cape Fear Sea Devils in the opening-round of the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament on Tuesday at the Sports Arena.
After a cold-shooting first half, the Blue Dragons were dominant in the second shooting better than 56 percent in the final 20 minutes to defeat the Sea Devils 84-60.
With the victory, Eck became Blue Dragon men's basketball's all-time coaching wins leader with 260, surpassing Charles Sesher, who amassed 259 coaching victories from 1929 through 1957.
More importantly for the Blue Dragons (29-6), they advance to the second round of the tournament to take on the No. 6 overall seed Southwestern Florida State at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
After jumping out to an early 11-point lead in the first half, the Blue Dragons went cold. Hutch went one stretch with 0 for 7 shooting and five turnovers as Cape Fear went on a 17-5 run to take a 28-27 lead with 2:38 to play. J.J. Rhymes' drive to the hoop snapped a skid of 5 minutes, 10 seconds without and field goal to reclaim the lead and despite shooting 35.9 percent with eight turnovers in the first half; the Blue Dragons led 32-30 at halftime.
The second half was a much different story for both teams as Hutchinson shot 56.3 percent in the final 20 minutes to 28.6 percent for Cape Fear as the Blue Dragons outscored the Sea Devils 52-30 in the second half.
The Blue Dragons used an 11-3 run to start the second half to set the state for their dominant second half. That run drew to 32-13 in the first 10 minutes of the second half as a tip-in by James Rojas gave Hutch a 62-43 lead with 10:09 remaining in the game.
Hutchinson had leads as large as 28 points in the second half and the defending NJCAA National champions won their fifth consecutive tournament game dating back to last season.
Rhymes scored 10 of game-high 19 points in the second half. Rhymes moved into seventh place on the Blue Dragon scoring list, moving past Teko Wynder (1971-73) with 1,283 points.
Devonte Bandoo had 13 of his 18 points in the final 20 minutes, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers. Bandoo jumped two spots on the Dragon career scoring list with 1,056 points. He also moved into the single-season Top 10 for 3-point goals, now tied for ninth with Durrall Peterson (2004) and Cortez Barnes (1991) with 62 3-pointers.
The Blue Dragons finished the game shooting 45.1 percent (32 of 71), hitting 6 of 19 from 3-point range and 14 of 22 from the free-throw line. The Blue Dragons dominated the boards out-rebounding Cape Fear 63-32 with 22 offensive rebounds. Kai Mitchell also reached double figures in rebounds with 10.
Hutchinson held Cape Fear 23 points under their season scoring average as the Sea Devils hit 22 of 72 total shots (30.6 percent). The Devils were 8 of 36 from 3-point range and 8 of 14 from the foul line.
Jalen Cameron came off the bench to lead Cape Fear with 16 points. Zaqwaun Matthews finished with nine points and James Moore had eight points.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 49-24 all-time in the NJCAA Tournament, 12-5 in opening-round games. … The Dragons are now 2-0 all-time in tournament play against Region X teams, defeating North Greenville in a 1973 quarterfinal game 99-90. … The 29 wins for Hutchinson in 2018 ties for ninth most in team history with six other teams. … The Blue Dragons are 22-0 this season when leading at halftime. … This was the first-ever meeting between Hutchinson and Cape Fear.