After losing three straight, the Bobcats picked up a win Wednesday night to improve their record to 4-4.
Two players put up over 20 points in the 84-67 victory over Haskell. Senior Brandt Cochran put up 25 – which wasn’t surprising to head coach Steve Shepherd as Cochran is a player he knew he’d be relying on to lead the team through the season. But, freshman Ayden Stone put up 23 of his own. In the previous seven games, the most Stone had put up was 12.
“With Ayden, he was critical to our success,” Shepherd said. “He had some key baskets in that stretch when the game was still undecided. He didn’t play like a freshman, he played like a veteran.”
It was, for the most part, a pretty even battle between the teams in the first half. The Bobcats managed to claw their way to a 10-point lead, but Haskell turned around and trailed by only one leaving the half.
Haskell managed to take back the lead just seconds into the first half, but shots from Stone and Cochran helped the Bobcats take the lead back. Haskell held on until the final two minutes, where the Bobcats put up 12 points – half of which came from free throws due to some defensive fouls on Haskell’s part.
Stone played just over 27 minutes Wednesday night. In that time, he was able to make 11 of his 19 field goal attempts and get four assists.
“It was certainly his best game so far,” Shepherd said. “It’s just a sign of things to come. He’s an extremely hard worker, he’s physical and plays really aggressive so it’s good to see him have that kind of success.”
Cochran, recently named as the Association of Independent Institutions Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, played over 36 minutes. He went four for five in three-point attempts and eight for 14 in two-point field goal attempts.
“I think the biggest thing with Brandt was that he was patient with the offense,” Shepherd said. “He didn’t rush things too much.”
Shepherd said there were some definite changes made between Saturday’s 96-82 loss and Wednesday’s matchup.
“We had a tendency to shoot it rather quick in our losing streak,” Shepherd said. “So our goal was to be a little more patient with the offense and put a little more pressure on the defense.”
He said the team made that change, and it was obvious on Wednesday.
The team only had 12 three-point attempts and made six of them, while Haskell made 10 of its 39 three-point attempts. Despite that, the Bobcats were able to outscore their opponent.
Looking back at last season, the Bobcats lost their first game against Haskell 84-76, but picked up an 86-65 win the second time they faced the team. Shepherd said Haskell is always a difficult place for the team to play.
“We’ve always had a difficult time at Haskell,” Shepherd said. “I’m really proud of our focus and preparation over the last two days.
“The guys have been really focused, and I think they’re learning from their past, which is a good sign. Tough losses to good teams will only make you better if you learn from them.”
The Bobcats return home to play their first home game in nearly three weeks on Saturday. They face Welch College at 1 p.m.