Following a third-place finish in the Providence Tournament, the Cubs played their home opener against the Mira Costa Mustangs, looking to continue their strong start after the Thanksgiving celebration.
PG: 6’1” Sr. Uriel Ferguson (#1)
SG: 6’3” Jr. John Belardi (#12)
SF: 6’3” Jr. Andre Parris (#13)
PF: 6’3” Jr. Jack Kresich (#10)
C: 6’8” Jr. Remington Rofer (#35)
The Cubs win the tip and get a layup right away off of a pair of offensive rebounds from Kresich and Rofer. On the other end, the Cubs commit a foul on the floor but get a stop on the possession. The Mustangs get their first points at the 6:10 mark off of a quick layup in transition play. The Cubs regain the lead at 5:25 with a post move from Kresich after missing a few threes. The Cubs come up with a couple of steals and earn Kresich free-throw shots at the 4:45 mark, but Kresich misses both shots and the Mustangs get a quick transition layup to tie the score. The Cubs give up a drive to the hoop for a layup before Rofer earns two quick fouls against the Mustangs. He converts both free throws, and the game is tied 6-6. The Cubs force another turnover at the 2:45 mark, allowing Brooks to come in for Ferguson. Another offensive board gets Kresich a triple shot that does not go wasted. On the other end, though, the Cubs foul, allowing Roquemore into the game for Parris. The new lineup forces the Mustangs into a pair of turnovers before Cox comes in for Kresich at 1:09. Rofer forces yet another foul inside after a sweet pass from Belardi gets him what would have been an open look. Belardi drives past his man to extend the lead to six. Rofer draws a charge with 36 seconds left in the quarter, giving the Cubs the apparent last shot of the quarter. The Cubs turn the ball over, but an athletic block from Brooks keeps the score at 13-7.
The Cubs open the quarter with a steal, almost leading to a Suceveanu dunk. Suceveanu is instead fouled, converting one of two. The Mustangs get a floater over the outstretched arms of Roquemore. The Mustangs get another quick transition layup, but the Cubs respond with a baseline jumper from Cox. The Mustangs get beat on the drive again, cutting the lead to just 16-13. Parris returns before the Mustangs call a thirty-second timeout and regroup to make a run. With 5:40 remaining in the half, the Cubs get a few looks inside but fail to convert layups. The Cub defense remains stout, but the team fails to get anything going offensively. Parris misses a one and one at 4:26 before committing a foul on the other end. The Cubs commit successive fouls on the defensive end, putting the Mustangs into the bonus at 2:55. The Mustangs sink both free throws, cutting the lead to just one with 2:30 left. Rofer forces another foul inside, sinking two of two to put the Cubs in front 18-15. The Mustangs need a timeout with 1:49 left in the half, drawing a foul on Kresich right out of the break. Roquemore comes in for Kresich before the Cubs give up an and-one layup. The Mustangs miss the free throw but luck into a Loyola fumbled rebound. The Cubs give up a three at 1:00 before stealing the ball and getting an easy layup just five seconds later. Now down 18-22, the Cubs need a timeout to stop the run. Out of the brief intermission, Belardi scores an and-one of his own, cutting the deficit to just one. The Cubs give up an open three, but Belardi scores another and-one to bring it within one.
The Cubs severely struggled from behind the arc and with scoring efficiency from the inside. Despite forcing numerous fouls inside and forcing turnovers, the Cubs have proven unable to take advantage of the opportunities they create, allowing the smaller and less-talented Mustangs to lead at the half.
The five that start the second half is the same five that started the game, hoping to produce better results than the opening frames. The Cubs give up a quick layup before turning the ball over on their opening possession. The team blocks a shot but gives the ball right back to the visitors on a long pass. The Mustangs sink a three but have it recalled for an illegal screen. The teams trade turnovers before Rofer gets a putback layup to put the Cubs within one. Rofer gets a block on the end before more turnovers put the Mustangs in front by three. Belardi sinks a step back three that ties the game at 29 before a beautiful finish from the Mustang guard restores the lead. Kresich forces a foul inside, sinking two at the 4:25 mark. The Cubs turnover woes continue, giving up free throws. Rofer sinks a three before an emphatic block from Belardi saves a sure layup. Ferguson draws his third personal, bringing Parris back into the game and allowing the Mustangs to tie the score from the line. Brooks beats his man on a drive, sinking a runner in the lane to put the Cubs up 36-34. Stout defense forces another Mustang turnover before Brooks sinks a three to put the Cubs up 39-34. Belardi leads the transition and gets himself a floater in the lane, extending the lead to 41-34. The Mustangs need a full timeout to stop the Cub momentum, leaving 1:28 in the quarter. Poor defense from the Cubs gives up an and-one layup, but the opposing guard misses the free throw. Belardi blocks a shot before holding the ball for the final shot of the frame. The Cubs miss the shot, and the quarter comes to a close.
Brooks, Roquemore, Ferguson, Belardi, and Parris lead the team into the closing stretch of the game. The Cubs move the ball beautifully for a Ferguson triple but give up an easy transition layup. On the way back down the court, Brooks gets fouled going up, making one of two with 6:42 left in the game. The Cubs lead 45-38 as they get lost on defense, giving up a wide-open three from the wing. Ferguson gets a putback layup to go up 47-41, but Coach Adams needs a timeout to reorganize the team. The Cubs get a few open looks but struggle to convert them before Kresich draws a foul on the three-point attempt. Kresich goes one for three, making the score 48-41. Brooks throws down a monster jam in the lane, causing an explosion from the bench and the crowd and forcing a timeout from the Mustangs. The Cubs give up another and-one foul with 3:25 left in the game, following it up with sloppy play and turnovers. After cleaning up some sweat on the floor, the Cubs inbound quickly to Brooks, who beats his man for an easy layup. Defensively, the Cubs continue giving up easy layups. The team allows two before a no-look pass from Ferguson puts the lead back to five. The Mustang guard earns more free throws but a beautiful move from Ferguson allows the Cubs to score on the break. The Cubs call a timeout upon seeing the Mustang defense shift into a trapping defense with 1:26 left to play. Leading 56-51, Belardi draws a foul on the Mustangs, sinking both and helping ice the game. The Mustang guard continues to show out with an absolute circus shot that somehow finds its way in. With 1:06, Brooks is bailed out by a foul call, sinking both attempts to make the score 60-53. The Mustang guard beats the double team and scores again before Belardi draws another foul, sinking two and extending the lead to 62-55. Belardi is fouled after the Mustangs miss a three, earning him more free throws. The Cubs foul with 10 seconds left but get the rebound on missed free throws to close out the game.
The Cubs seemed more focused in the second half, making less mistakes and scoring more efficiently. John Belardi led the team with an 18-point performance.