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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

Rangers erase playoff hopes for Engineers

  • Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013
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Two familiar foes in intramural basketball squared off Wednesday night and one of them won’t be around for the Commander’s Cup Postseason Basketball Tournament.

The 75th Ranger Regiment rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes and knocked off the 11th Engineer Battalion, 51-48, and ended its postseason hopes.

Intramural league rules require a team to boast a .500 or better record to make the tournament. The Engineers entered Wednesday 5-6 with two games left, including the Rangers, and fell to 5-7 with the loss.

In recent history, the battalion has consistently been a strong contender in basketball, but had a roller coaster 2013 season. The Engineers started 0-4, then won four straight and have gone 1-3 since.

“We just can’t get comfortable,” battalion head coach Kyle Ferguson said. “We’ve had a lot of players either in school or hurt.”

Meanwhile, the Rangers are a solid fourth in the league standings with an 8-3 (as of Wednesday) record.

Bryan Dent led the Rangers with 12 points while Dionte Clayborn scored 11 and David Lee had 10.

The Engineers looked like they would pull away from the Rangers as they maintained a seven-point cushion throughout most of the second half.

While the Rangers started out hot offensively, the Engineers slowly took control of the game by changing to a 2-3 zone, which the 75th had few answers for.

But in the final five minutes, the Rangers began pushing the floor more, driving, and coming up with second-chance points on rebounds.

“We decided to rebound and push the ball every time before they could set up defensively,” Rangers head coach Sam Billins said.

“Our defense and rebounding was key.”

Todd Brown gave an unsung hero’s performance — he only scored six points — but came up with some big rebounds on both sides of the floor late in the game. It helped the 75th go on a 10-0 run after trailing 41-34.

The Engineers had a chance to tie the game as Antonio Flack hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to bring the score to 51-48. The Rangers turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds pass, giving the Engineers another shot, but the would-be game-tying 3-pointer by Waylon Johnson rattled out.

As the Rangers get set for the playoffs, they will have to do without some key players they lost to injury or field rotation, Billins said. What his team did well in the second half — teamwork, rebounding and defense —will be as crucial to execute as ever.

“Those will be the key, as they are any time, but more so now since we are so short-handed,” he said.

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