D-Up! D-Up! D-Up! D-Up!
The chant reverberated through the Plano Campus gym like an alarm going off through most of the Lady Cougars' game against McLennan College. The back-and-forth rhythm, bouncing from one end of a team bench to the other, trying to hype teammates up on defense, is familiar to most fans of high school and college basketball.
This week, the chant took on particular significance, as Collin's men's and women's teams entered conference play. Women's Coach Jeff Allen and Men's Coach Jim Sigona both identified defense as an area their teams would need to improve on to win tough conference schedules.
The teams responded with the Cougars notching three W's in their first three conference games and the Lady Cougars fighting off a strong McLennan team 77-69 in their Saturday game (photos) after giving up two games earlier in the week. The teams split their games against Temple College on Jan. 16.
In the McLennan game, the Lady Cougars pressed early, making the Highlassies work to even get up the court. Collin's women attacked the ball, registering 14 steals in the game. Jordynn Hernandez led the team in forcing turnovers, going to the floor on a few occasions to fight for the ball and racking up four steals.
Although they didn't have their best shooting night of the year, the Lady Cougars were able to put up a 39.4% shooting percentage and made 12-33 from behind the arc. Destiny Thurman led the team with 17 points, including three of five three-pointers. She was followed by Mikayla Alexander with 14 points, then Hernandez and Brianna Marshall with 12 points each.
The men's game went down to the wire with the Cougars ultimately topping McLennan 80-79 (photos). After being knotted 39-all at the half, Collin was able to jump out to a decent lead in the final period. McLennan threatened repeatedly, drawing within two points a few times, then shaving the Cougars' lead to just a point with 23.6 seconds remaining.
Collin tried to hold the ball for time and force a foul but was called for traveling with just six seconds remaining. A Highlander player missed a long two-pointer and Collin's Mason Hix snagged the rebound. Hix, who was the leading scorer for Collin with 19 points, was fouled with 1.8 seconds to go. He missed his free throws, but was able to recover his second shot and held the ball as time expired. Hix also led the team in rebounds in the game with nine.
Following closely in boards and points was Nighel Ceaser with 19 points and eight rebounds. Micheal Tate and Lamont Simmons rounded out the top scorers with 15 and 13 points respectively. The team shot 48.1% from the field and was impressive from the stripe, sinking 24-27.
Collin's men took their first game of conference play to three overtimes in a 118-111 win against nationally-ranked Ranger College. Tajzmel Sherman led the team with 46 points, followed by Tate with 22. Ceaser led the team in rebounds with 13.
Sherman had 28 points and Simmons had 21 in the Cougars' 97-87 road win against Hill College. Hill was also ranked nationally coming into the game. Collin had a 51.5% shooting percentage in the game.
Although they mounted a comeback in the second half, the Cougars fell to Temple College 99-91 on the road, Jan. 16. Sherman, Hix and Simmons put up 35, 17 and 16 points respectively. The team shot 47.7% from the field and 50 total rebounds for the night.
The Lady Cougars lost a tight 68-63 game to visiting Ranger. Thurman led scoring with 20 points, followed by Hernandez and Marshall with 13 and 12 points. Shala Robinson led in rebounds with 10.
Collin's women also took a road loss against Hill 72-60. Hernandez led the team in scoring with 22 points. She was followed by Marshall with nine.
The Lady Cougars picked up their second win of the conference easily, outscoring Temple in each quarter of their 80-65 road game. Marshall led the team in scoring, followed by Thurman with 14 and Laruen Stallworth with 10. Thurman notched five steals in the game adding to 12 total for the team, as the Lady Cougars continued their defense-minded approach.