Sussex slips by sloppy Southampton

Published 10:33 am Friday, January 29, 2016

Sussex scored many fast-break points on Wednesday night as a result of Southampton’s 22 turnovers. -- Murray Thompson | Tidewater News

Sussex scored many fast-break points on Wednesday night as a result of Southampton’s 22 turnovers. — Murray Thompson | Tidewater News

The Southampton boys basketball team had not practiced nor played a game in more than a week thanks to inclement weather than hampered most of the state, and it showed in Wednesday’s sloppy loss to Sussex. The Indians shot less than 50 percent from the field and turned the ball over 22 times in the 57-53 loss, but still had a chance late in the contest to steal the game from the visiting Tigers.

“Our shots just weren’t falling and we didn’t have our legs,” Southampton head coach Sharone Bailey said. “We missed a lot of easy shots, too.”

Star forward Darius Bell was plagued by early foul trouble, forcing Bailey to rely heavily upon his bench from the first timeout. Sussex took advantage of the post without the 6-foot-9 Bell manning the middle, and rushed out to a 17-13 first quarter lead.

“Coming back from that break and then having to playing a game, we could never get it going,” Bailey said.

Though Bell was guarded by a shorter opponent when he returned to the floor, the Southampton guards had trouble getting the ball to him down low.

“They were just really physical, and we couldn’t get to the basket with the contact,” Bailey said.

Southampton inserted freshman Malik Haley into the lineup to start the second half, and the Indians subsequently made a run. The big man scored 12 of his 17 points, including 10-consecutive, and pulled down four rebounds in the third quarter to cut the lead to three at the beginning of the final frame.

“He was working,” Bailey said.

Sussex opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, which sent a number of fans toward the exits. Bell, who watched the deficit swell to 10 from the bench, entered the game with a little more than five minutes left, and began to go to work. A three-point shot by Brendan Simms and back-to-back baskets by Bell trimmed the lead to three, but turnovers in critical spots down the stretch doomed the Indians.

“We could just never take the lead,” Bailey said. “We had opportunities. We were scrappy and we made a run, but nothing would really fall when we need it to.”

Sussex failed to ice the game from the free throw line, as the Tigers missed nine of their final 12 from the charity stripe. Southampton, meanwhile, never capitalized because its guards turned the ball over 12 times in the final quarter of play.

“It was all about making the right read when we could get it into their zone,” Bailey said. “We just had too many turnovers.”

The loss drops Southampton to 7-8, though the team has shown improvement from its 7-11 record at this time last season. The Indians will look to get back to .500 tonight at home against Brunswick, who won the first matchup between the two teams in December, 51-48.

“They have some good guards, but we just need to use our size,” Bailey said. “I hope Malik can carry his play through, and we’ll be in good shape.”