Story by Brayden Leather, Herald-Mail Sports, November 25, 2018
After a tough stretch of three straight losses at home, Hagerstown Community College capped a perfect weekend in the Jim Brown Classic with a 77-72 win over County College of Morris (N.J.) Sunday afternoon.
The Hawks (3-3) were led by Malcolm Moye (23 points) and Turin Hollis (22 points).
"Me and Tyrin work really hard to carry our team. I think everybody came in with a lot of energy," Moye said. "I know I kind of have to step it up a little bit because I started off a little slow but getting to the free throw line helped with that."
The Hawks finished 87.9 percent at the free-throw line, making 29 of 33 attempts including 10 each from Moye and Hollis.
At first it was not easy for the Hawks. The opening tip turned into an easy layup for Zaahir Woody of the Titans. As the Titans defense began to apply pressure with a trapping press, the Hawks began to rush their passes which resulted in turnovers and miscommunication errors. A steal by Abraham Kromah for the Titans turned into a layup and a 23-14 lead.
Morris (3-2) began loosening its grip as it committed fouls, including one that allowed Hollis to add three free points at the free-throw line.
"Coach Hopkins is always stressing to us how important free throws are, so everyday we always get work in before practice and after trying to shoot as many free throws as we can," Hollis said. "Making free throws is very important to us as a team."
Following Hollis' successful trip to the line, the momentum shifted in the Hawks favor. Rodney Black put down a dunk for HCC on a missed layup attempt to cut the deficit to 23-21. For the final 5:45 of the half, the Hawks were in bonus as Titans fouls began to pile up.
A trip to the free throw line by Moye tied the game at 28. Moments later, a 3-pointer by Jamichael Smart (14 points) gave the Hawks a 31-28 advantage.
In the final two minutes of the half, HCC began running a trapping press of their own. Moye capped the opening half with a bit of excitement and a two-handed dunk as time expired sending the Hawks into halftime with a 33-32 lead.
"It's tough to play back-to-back games and come back out in less than 24 hours," Hawks coach Bernard Hopkins said. "I felt if we could keep the game close, we could get going and that's what happened."
HCC opened the second half strong. The Hawks' only problem was containing Joshua Morris. After a silent first half, Morris quickly put up six points for the Titans. A feed from Hollis to Smart resulted in a layup and cut the Titans lead back to one at 38-37.
Both teams traded one-point leads on dunks. First, Jayden Dawson put one down on a breakaway for the Titans, then Moye quickly answered for the Hawks. Smart followed up Moye's dunk with a two-point shot to give HCC a 50-47 lead.
"The dunks kind of get me into the game a little bit. I think I get a little more aggressive when I get a dunk," Moye said. "Having two, I think it's more than I've ever had. It hypes my team up a little more and helps people off the bench have more energy."
Then the Hawks began to pull away. Moye made a layup with a free throw attached and moments later, Hollis made a layup of his own and got a free throw after he came crashing down onto the floor. Moye then made another two-pointer followed by a Jason Wiggins layup that swelled the lead to 60-49.
Meanwhile, the Titans were led by Morris who posted 13 more points, putting his total at 19 before he fouled out and was issued a technical foul on his way off the court.
Smart made the Titans pay, making three of the four free throws making it 70-60.
Then as time began to run short, four Titans fouls resulted in seven points at the free throw line (five by Hollis, two by Black) to officially put away the game.
After a strong weekend, Hopkins is looking to continue the success when Maryland JUCO Conference play resumes Wednesday on the road against Prince George's Community College.
"It was good to win both games especially after struggling, losing three straight at home then winning two straight against quality teams. Monroe was a quality team and yesterday Morris beat Allegany who is one of the best teams in our league," Hopkins said. "It's one step, one game at a time. We've got PG on Wednesday so we have just two days to practice and keep going because we have Allegany again next weekend so it doesn't stop. You have to be mentally tough in this game."