A testament to a great team is having the ability to win games in all kinds of ways. The Hornets pulled off a tough 72-62 win against the Pirates, working through mistakes. Tuesday night was different for the Hornets, considering they were coming off a 44-point win against the Moorpark Raiders last week in their first home game.
Porterville came into this game off a tight 73-68 win against Allan Hancock, and they played as such. The Pirates came out of the gate going a million miles an hour. They jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead four minutes into the game. Fullerton survived a few early turnovers, and quickly tied things up at 9-9.
Sophomore guard Sean Newman Jr. led all scorers with 20 points and added 6 assists. Newman had his silky smooth jump shot and great passing on display against the Pirates.
Head Coach Perry Webster raved about Newman’s performance following the win, “It helps having really good guards, and Sean Newman really controlled the game. He controlled the pace and was really rock solid for us down the stretch.”
With 12:34 remaining in the first half, Webster was given a rather quick technical foul for arguing a call with an official. As technicals tend to do, it seemed to fire up the Hornets.
The next two possessions saw sophomore forward Javon Jones splash a three-pointer, followed by a great defensive sequence from the Hornets that forced a five-second call against Porterville.
Sophomore guard Shaquil Bender contributed 14 points and Jones added 13 points off the bench, including two back-to-back three-pointers, the last one splashing right before the buzzer sounded to go into halftime, giving the Hornets a 36-29 lead.
Bender had been the team’s leading scorer in the past 2 contests. He started slow Tuesday, but scored in a flurry in the 2nd half, scoring 10 of his 14 points. “We just have so many good, talented guys on this team,” Bender explained. “So any night, you never know. Someone can have an off night and someone else will step up for us.”
The Hornets were not sharp in this game. They shot 38% from the field, shot 8-28 from three-point land, and were outrebounded 45-36. Yet, they won the game by double digits.
To start the second half, Porterville again came out going shot for shot with the Hornets. The Pirates were almost too fast and loose for their own good. Fullerton forced them into committing 25 turnovers in the game.
The game-breaking moment seemed to come around the 7:20 mark of the second half. Bender broke down the defense and threw a beautiful lob to freshman center Mike Ofoegbu, who did not miss. The thunderous slam at the end of the alley-oop got the entire gym onto their feet and extended the lead to 61-48 for the Hornets, which would end up being their largest lead of the game.
Porterville did not go quietly into the night, continuing to cut the lead down in the closing minutes. However, Fullerton kept the Pirates at bay just enough to secure the win.
Freshman forward Assad Madassalia led the Pirates in scoring with 11 points off the bench. Madassalia was the only player to score in the double digits for the Pirates.
No. 1 Fullerton hits the road again for their next contest, facing the Cerro Coso Coyotes on Monday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m.