[ By STEVE CARPENTER ]
[ BLUE DRAGON SPORTS INFORMATION ]
INDEPENDENCE, Kan. — Facing an uphill battle all night long at the ICC Fieldhouse, Kai Mitchell‘s old-fashioned three-point play with a fraction over 10 seconds to play finally put the No. 8 Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team over the top.
Trailing by four points with 3 minutes, 14 seconds to play, the eighth-ranked Blue Dragons closed the game on a 9-3 run to rally and defeat the Pirates 76-74 on Wednesday night at the ICC Fieldhouse.
Hutchinson improves to 14-2 overall and maintains its share of the Jayhawk Conference lead with Barton at 10-2. The Pirates fall to 8-7 (5-7 KJCCC.)
The Blue Dragons trailed 71-67 with 3:14 left and 73-71 with 1:09 to go. With 57.9 seconds to go, Devonte Bandoo hit two free throws to tie the game at 73. After trading turnovers, Indy’s Dante Jefferson gave the Pirates a 74-73 lead after hitting 1 of 2 free throws with 24.5 seconds to go.
That set up Mitchell’s heroics. Taking a feed from Rob Whitfield, Mitchell drove to his right, quickly spun to his left, scored and was fouled with 10.2 seconds left. The converted the three-point play and Hutch led 76-74. The Pirates looked poised to send the game to overtime, but Jefferson’s point-blank shot was a big strong and the ball rolled out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.
Mitchell finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
For the second-straight game, sophomore Devonte Bandoo established a new career high, scoring 26 points on 5 of 5 3-point shooting to lead the Blue Dragons. The five 3-pointers tied Bandoo’s career high. Bandoo scored 16 points in the second half to lead the Blue Dragons, who trailed by as many as nine points in the first half.
Whitfield also had three big 3-pointers for the Blue Dragons. He and freshman James Rojas finished with 11 points each.
The Blue Dragons shot 48.1 percent for the game (26 of 54), hitting a sizzling 9 of 13 from 3-point range and 15 of 25 from the foul line. Hutchinson had to overtime 22 turnovers, but out-rebounded Independence 40-36.
Romani Hanson led Independence with 15 points. DeAnthony McCallum had 10 points.
Independence shot 38.8 percent for the game (26 of 67), going 6 of 21 from 3-point range and 16 of 22 from the free-throw line.
The Blue Dragons shot 40 percent and committed 40 turnovers in the first half. The Pirates scored the first four points of the game. They used a 7-0 run to lead 13-6 after an Alex Torres 3-pointer with 15:19 to go in the first half. The lead increased to nine at 20-11 on a Sean Pollack jumper in the paint with 10:29 remaining. Indy maintained that eight-point margin with a Hanson 3-pointer at the 7:26 mark for a 25-17 lead.
The Dragons made it a one possession game on a J.J. Rhymes transition hoop with 4:54 left. They cut the deficit to 30-29 with two Mitchell free throws at the 3:41 mark A Bandoo 3-pointer with 2:30 left tied the game at 32, but seven Hutch turnovers in the final 4 minutes helped Indy take a 34-32 lead at halftime.
Bandoo started the second half with a 3-pointer on the first possession of the half that gave the Dragons a 35-34 lead. That powered a 10-1 Hutch run to start the game, The Dragons led 42-35 on a Sal Nuhu bucket with 16 minutes left in the half. The Dragons kept that lead of six when Rojas knocked down a 3-pointer with 14:24 left to give Hutch a 47-41 lead.
Independence fought back to take a 64-62 lead with 6:18 left on a Ricky Edwards 3-pointer. Rhymes tied the game and then the teams traded 3-pointers. Bandoo hit a trey with 4:46 left that tied the game at 67.
Indy scored the next four points to lead 71-67 with 3:14 left. That’s when the Blue Dragons’ finally started getting several key defensive stops and set up the wild finish that was capped by Mitchell’s three-point play with 10.2 seconds remaining.
The Blue Dragons will play Dodge City at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday to start a four-game homestand.
GAME NOTES – This was Hutchinson’s ninth-straight victory over Independence. The Dragons are now 45-23 all-time against the Pirates, 11-10 at the ICC Fieldhouse. … J.J. Rhymes was held to a season-low nine points. … The Dragons are now 4-1 when trailing at halftime this season. … Hutch’s 22 turnovers, were the second highest total this season.