By Ryan Libby |Staff Writer|
The Coyote’s caught fire from 3-point range propelling them to their first win of the season,with their backs against the wall and down 12 points late in the first half, beating UC San Diego 90-82.
The game tested the Coyotes’ ability to remain calm and stick to their game plan Nov. 24 at Coussoulis Arena, leading them to their first CCAA victory.
The Coyotes [1-1] struggled early with turnovers and the deficit could have been worse going into halftime.
However, back-to-back three pointers by guards Brian Goins and Jamari Simmons allowed the Coyotes to earn some momentum as they would go into the break down 34-31.
“I was proud of them,” said head coach Jeff Oliver about his team’s first half performance. “They dug down and figured it out.”
The Coyotes could not miss from the outside and went 10 of 18 from the 3-point range.
It marked the first time in four years that the Coyotes made 10 or more three pointers in consecutive games.
Simmons and Goins led the way, feeding the team’s confidence.
“It makes you more comfortable,” Simmons said. “As soon as one person hits some shots, even if the guy has missed five shots before that, the next time down [the court] he’s ready to hit that sixth shot.”
That confidence would carry Simmons to a 24-point outburst, but he said he believes defensively the team could use some work and his coach agreed.
“We’ve got to fix some things defensively,” said Oliver.
“We’re still giving up way too many points. We can’t rely on scoring 90-something points every game.”
CSUSB acknowledged the absence of first team All-CCAA forward Kwame Alexander who has to miss the first four games due to academic probation.
Everybody on the Coyotes believes that when Alexander returns, the team will be even better. He will help create an offense that not only can pressure opponents inside, but also from long distance.
“With [Alexander] it gets worse for other teams, If [Alexander] gets the ball in the post he’s going to draw a double-team so that’s going to free up a lot of us other guards for wide open shots,” Goins said.
Goins lead the team with the game high of 26 points.
Alexander’s presence also will help the Coyotes in the defensive department as they struggled to guard UC San Diego [1-3] inside the paint, giving up 44 points.
CSUSB hoped to improve coming out of the break, going into the locker room down by three.
It was like the Thanksgiving turkey dinner had not quite worn off as they struggled to get anything going.
Normally known for their high pressure defense and creation of turnovers, the Coyotes had a taste of their own medicine, giving up the ball seven times in the first half.
It would take a mere seven minutes in the 2nd half for the Coyotes to take their first lead of the game and they would not look back.
After previously tying the game six times, they were finally able to get over the hump and begin to show flashes of what should come.
Continuous ball movement and the creation of space offensively allowed for the Coyotes to split the Tritons defense like butter, getting to the free-throw line 11 times; an improvement over their first half stat of one free-throw attempt.
Bench production also was a key for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes outscored UC San Diego’s bench 35-18 and most of that early dominance came from forward Joshua Gouch who came off the bench red hot making his first four shots, finishing eight of 11 from field with 18 points.
Their ability to work the shot clock and find the open shooter was another noticeable difference from last year.
“Our ability to shoot the ball really allows us to space the floor and makes us very difficult to guard,” said head coach Oliver.
Team chemistry is something that head coach Oliver has preached so far this season and it appears as if the message is being heard.
After the Coyote’s 97-90 loss to Westmont Nov. 13, They were determined to bounce back with a win.
“We all kind of have a chip on our shoulder because we know how good we can really be,” Goins said.
The Coyotes had two games over the weekend against California State University, Domniguez Hills and California State University, Los Angeles.