Acuil, McSwain record double doubles
Sophomore Joseph Acuil and freshman Freddie McSwain combined for 37 points and 25 rebounds to lead Neosho County Community College (15-11) to a 86-73 win over Cowley Community College (6-2 Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference East, 10-16 overall) in the NCCC gym Saturday night.
The win over Cowley was the second straight for the Panthers after dropping two in a row for the first time this season.
Acuil and McSwain displayed an aerial assault with multiple jams. The Baylor-bound Acuil missed a triple-double by one block, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
Coming off the bench, McSwain shot 8-for-9 from the field, including five dunks, to finish with 19 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. The freshman said he likes getting time off the bench rather than starting.
“Coming off the bench I’m more comfortable,” the high-flying freshman said. “I feel relaxed. I don’t have much pressure on me.”
McSwain was more aggressive than he had been up to this point of the season. With his confidence building, McSwain said focus has been the key to his improvement.
“Play fast, play with my team. Just focus. Just focus on what I’m in the game for. Rebound and score.”
McSwain was not the only Panther reserve to step up.
With Acuil, BJ Jenkins and Deshawn Terrell battling foul trouble, Neosho got a lot of help off the bench. The combination of McSwain, Garin Vandiver, Jackson Perez, Greg Wimberly and Malik Henderson combined for 35 points, 23 rebounds, eight assists.
“I thought they did a great job of stepping up for us,” Panther Head Coach Jeremy Coombs said. “ ... I was really pleased with our bench play tonight.”
Vandiver had a chance to show his long range abilities, hitting two threes in a crucial period of the first half — during which the Panthers stretched the lead from two points to eight. Vandiver scored eight points in the contest, hitting 2-of-3 from deep.
Up 28-26 with 4:30 to play in the first, Vandiver connected on a three from the wing to extend the Panther lead to 31-26. With 2:30 to play in the half, Vandiver hit another three for a 36-28 Panther lead. Neosho ended the half up 40-30.
“He’s capable of doing that,” Coombs said. “He can really shoot the heck out of the basketball. He’s got a great jump hook down on the post. Right now his biggest thing is he’s battling against a Big 12 player for playing time and McSwain and Wimberly. Really sometimes we’re trying to play three big guys. We’ll slide Jo out to the wing and let him roam around out there or put McSwain out there. That’s because (Vandiver) is playing so well we’re trying to get him some time.”
In the second half, Cowley battled back to cut the Neosho lead to under 10 with about five minutes to play and at the 3:38 mark in the second half. The Panthers were able to hold off the late Tiger surge for the 13-point victory.
“It was just one of those deals where we couldn’t leave them open or they were just going to knock it down,” Coombs said. “We had some lapses in our defense where there were times where they shot some open jump shots and knocked them down. Other than that I thought we did a good job of defending them. They’re a good ball club and it was kind of back and forth, back and forth. We knew they weren’t going to go away.”
Neosho shot 51.8 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three. The Panthers outrebounded Cowley 56 to 33, but lost the turnover battle 17 to 7. Collectively, the Panthers blocked 13 shots. Neosho shot 58.3 percent from the charity stripe.
Cowley struggled from the field, shooting 32.4 percent from the field and from three. From the line, the Tigers shot 70 percent.
BJ Jenkins struggled from the field and with turnovers, shooting 3-for-11 and committing five giveaways, but finished with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists. He finished 6-for-7 from the foul line. The sophomore point guard battled foul trouble all night.
Brett Frantz shot 3-of-6 from three and 6-of-10 from the field scoring 16 points.
Freshman Jackson Perez score five points and handed out five assists.
Cowley was led by Dwight Richards with 22 points, Soufiyane Diakite had 10.
Neosho makes the short trip to Iola to play Jayhawk East rival Allen County Community College (5-2, 13-11) Wednesday. The Panthers defeated the Red Devils 107-79 in Chanute Jan. 10.
“Always a tough place to play,” Coombs said about Allen. “Last time we won, (Neosho Assistant Coach Devon) Crabtree hit a last second shot to win and now he’s on the bench, so maybe he’ll draw something up ... We’ll definitely have to bring our A game.”
Neosho 40 46 - 86
Cowley 30 43 - 73
Neosho: Joseph Acuil 18, Deshawn Terrell 3, Jackson Perez 5, Brett Frantz 16, BJ Jenkins 14, Freddie McSwain 19, Malik Henderson 1, Greg Wimberly 2, Garin Vandiver 8.
Cowley: Mason Loewen 3, Trayshawn Wheeler 9, Terrell Gandy 8, Shyheid Petteway 5, Cedric Johnson 4, Dwight Richards 22, Kaleb Ratliff 4, Soufiyane Diakite 10, Austin Maxwell 8.