Gulf Coast finally snaps skid with 78-74 win
Posted Feb 8, 2017 at 10:14 PM
By Dustin Kent747-5065 | @PCNHDustinKentdkent@pcnh.com
PANAMA CITY — Gulf Coast came into Wednesday's Panhandle Conference matchup with Pensacola State desperately in need of a victory following six straight losses. The Commodores came up with some red-hot shooting in the second half – including some from an unlikely source – and withstood a late charge by the Pirates to get just that.
Freshman forward Londell King, who had made just three 3-pointers on the season going into the game, knocked down three more during a crucial second-half run that helped the Commodores pull away for a 78-74 victory. With the win, Gulf Coast improved to 16-9 overall and 2-6 in Panhandle play. Pensacola State dropped to 12-11 and 2-6.
Will Robinson led Gulf Coast with 25 points, followed by Dyshane Murphy with 16, Ricquail Smoot with 10, and King with nine. Harrison Curry was the top scorer for Pensacola State with 17 points, while Kani Coles added 14.
The win comes as a great relief for a Commodores club that has watched its season spiral out of control since a league-opening win over Chipola.
"It's been a tough couple of weeks," Gulf Coast coach Jay Powell said. "We had that situation where it started with (Jeremy Harris' turf toe) injury, and then we got kind of rushed against Northwest Florida State here, and then it kind of compounded because we had back-to-back road games against Pensacola and Chipola.
"But the practices have been pretty good and the men have competed and listened. It hasn't been guys laying down or having a bad attitude. That really hasn't occurred. I think tonight showed that and proved that the guys are still wanting to win and compete."
The Commodores led 34-28 at halftime and extended the margin to double figures after a 3-pointer by Harris and a short jumper in the lane by Murphy to make it 41-31 early in the second half. Pensacola State fought its way back into the game by attacking the paint, with a pair of baskets inside by Coles and another by Gerald Williams cutting the deficit to five at 47-42 with 12:55 to play.
That's when King hit the first of three 3-pointers to spark a 14-4 Gulf Coast surge. A three by Murphy put the Commodores up 56-44, with a mid-range jumper by Robinson and King's third three making it 61-46 with 7:50 to play.
The lead remained 15 with just over five minutes on the clock, but the Pirates launched a furious rally to get back to within striking distance, with a 3-pointer by Eldred Mclamb and hard drives to the basket by Daryl Lewis and Coles sparking an 11-2 run to make it 68-62 with 2:52 remaining.
Another basket by Coles and a free throw by Williams made it a three-point game with 1:08 to play, but the Commodores doubled the lead on their next possession when Murphy took a pass from Harris on the left wing and drilled a clutch three to make it 73-67 with 40.7 seconds on the clock.
The Pirates didn't go away quietly, however, with a corner three from Lewis cutting the lead to 76-74 in the closing seconds. But Van Johnson hit two big free throws for the Commodores with 9.3 seconds left to make it a two-possession game and seal the victory.
In the end, the difference proved to be the long-range shooting of the Commodores, who came into the game shooting just 29 percent from three in Panhandle play but knocked in 11 from distance Wednesday, including seven in the second half.
"We ended up making some big shots and really, to be honest, it's been a few games since we've made big shots," Powell said. "To win the conference, you have to have some players step up and do that and we had some guys do that tonight.
"The decision making still wasn't great, but the best thing about tonight's game is that after losing a few in a row the men really, really brought it and fought and showed they had some character about themselves."
Gulf Coast will next host Chipola on Saturday, while Pensacola State returns home Saturday to face Tallahassee.
PENSACOLA STATE (74)
Lewis 3 2-3 9, Allen 6 3-3 16, Mayot 0 0-0 0, Williams 3 1-2 8, Hansen 0 0-0 0, Woodrow 0 0-0 0, Curry 4 8-8 17, Butler 2 0-0 4, Coles 6 2-4 14, Mclamb 2 0-0 6. Totals: 26 16-20 74.
GULF COAST (78)
Wade 0 1-2 1, King 3 0-0 9, Harris 2 0-0 6, Byrd 0 0-0 0, Murphy 6 1-4 16, V. Johnson 2 2-2 7, Smoot 5 0-0 10, Robinson 8 7-8 25, Marshall 1 0-0 2, C. Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 28 11-16 78.
Halftime score: Gulf Coast 34, Pensacola State 28
3-point field goals: Gulf Coast 11 (King 3, Murphy 3, Harris 2, Robinson 2, V. Johnson), Pensacola State 6 (Mclamb 2, Lewis, Allen, Williams, Curry). Total fouls: Gulf Coast 21, Pensacola State 16. Fouled out: Technical fouls: none.