Struggles on the offensive side of the floor have been the main storyline in the first two and a half weeks of the 2022-23 season.
That has really been the case for every team in the WAC in some form or another. Missing bunnies at the rim. Or struggling to hit shots on the perimeter. In the case of California Baptist in the early a.m. of Thanksgiving Day, it was the free throw line.
The offensive struggles were on full display Friday afternoon in a pair of losses for the WAC.
A banged up SFA squad hit just one 3-pointer and shot 32 percent from the field in a 58-44 loss to Quinnipiac in the Montreal Northern Classic. And Utah Tech was just 3-18 from the perimeter in a 67-52 loss at North Dakota.
Perhaps the most telling stat is the fact that neither team shot the ball well in the second half.
SFA shot just 25 percent from the field and Utah Tech shot 28 percent.
Second half offensive struggles…indeed.
Coming into Friday afternoon, SFA was banged up. Jalil Beaubrun is sidelined with a foot injury. Latrell Jossell did not play. Day Day Hall, although he played, is playing with an injured shoulder. And K-State transfer Montavious Murphy left the team to deal with some mental health issues. So, the Jacks are dealing with quite a bit of adversity.
And midway through the second half against Quinnipiac, it was on full display.
Roti Ware knocked down a 3-pointer to give SFA a 35-33 lead. And Day Day Hall’s jumper with 11:59 tied the game at 37.
But, then, the Jacks went ice cold. SFA did not score a point over the next four-plus minutes. And Quinnipiac went on a 13-0 run to take control.
Roti Ware’s jumper with 6:47 to play broke the drought. But, the damage was done.
Following a Kyle Hayman layup with 4:58 to play, SFA got just one more bucket. AJ Cajuste hit a jumper with 1:40 to play. Jaylin Jackson-Posey scored the final point for the Jacks on a free throw with 1:16 to play.
SFA was 7-28 from the field in the second half. And the Jacks were just 1-6 from the perimeter after halftime. If those struggles aren’t enough, the Jacks were also just 3-7 from the charity stripe in the second half, as well.
Roti Ware had a team-high 11 points for the Jacks. Nigel Hawkins was also in double figures with 10 points.
SFA has a quick turnaround as the Jacks will face Middle Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in the Montreal Northern Classic.
Second Half Gets Away from Trailblazers
There was a point with a little over 16 minutes left to play in Grand Forks, North Dakota where Utah Tech looked like it was primed for a road win.
Tanner Christensen’s dunk with 16:42 to play tied the game up at 39. And it looked like Utah Tech had life.
When Cam Gooden knocked down a 3-pointer with 11:28 to play, the Trailblazers had a shot, trailing by two. And Utah Tech even had a chance to tie the ball game at 48 when they forced a North Dakota turnover on the very next possession.
But, Dancell Leter gave the ball back to the Fighting Hawks with an offensive foul.
And that’s when the game changed. North Dakota went on an 8-1 run to take control and Trailblazers never recovered in a 67-52 loss on Saturday afternoon.
The offensive struggles were real down the stretch for the Trailblazers. Utah Tech missed 12 of its final 14 field goal attempts. Isaiah Pope was the only Trailblazer to hit a field goal over the final 11-plus minutes.
Cam Gooden had a team-high 22 points. Isaiah Pope was the only other Trailblazer in double figures with 12 points.
As a team, Utah Tech was 9-32 from the field in the second half. And, similar to SFA, the Trailblazers were not good from 3-point land in the second half and not good from the free throw line, either. Utah Tech was 2-13 from deep and 3-7 from the charity stripe.
The Trailblazers have to find some quick answers for the offensive struggles. Utah Tech takes on Cal State Fullerton on Saturday afternoon in Grand Forks.