BayRunners squeeze by Stingrays, 99-95

Blount blocks last shot to end hard-to-seal win

March 01, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When a team is 10 games under .500, it is hard to take any game lightly.

But the BayRunners had to have felt good heading into last night's game against San Diego, a team they had beaten three of four times and which had won only one road game in 17 tries.

Just the kind of scenario that should produce a solid victory and give the team some confidence before a seven-game road trip. Well, it produced a 99-95 win, but it was far from a solid one in front of 3,079 at Baltimore Arena.

BayRunners coach Terry Truax was diplomatic about his team's performance.

"I will say this, thank goodness the BayRunners came out on top because I really did not have a backup post-game comment had we not," Truax said. "It just shows you the competitiveness in the IBL. Throw out records."

San Diego, a league-worst 7-29, would probably want to throw its out. Still, it had a chance to beat the BayRunners (13-23) after forward Kirk King tied the score at 95 with just over a minute left.

That is when troubles at the free-throw line, usually a reliable place for the BayRunners, kept the Stingrays in the game. Guard Shawnta Rogers went 1-for-2 on the BayRunners' ensuing possession, giving his team a 96-95 lead with 57 seconds left.

The Stingrays failed to score on their next possession and were forced to foul Mark Blount, who missed both his free throws with 39 seconds left.

BayRunners forward Anthony Tucker stole an errant San Diego pass and guard Kurk Lee went to the line, but made only one of two free throws, giving the team a 97-95 lead with 19 seconds left.

Stingrays guard Saddi Washington took the clock down to five seconds before driving to the basket only to have his shot blocked by Blount, preserving the win.

"Late-game free throws became a factor," Truax said. "We thought we had the ball in the right people's hands. You got an 88 percent shooter in Shawnta and 92 percent shooter in Kurk. But Mark Blount came up big [with the block]."

Before the last stretch, the Stingrays basically trailed by double digits for much of the game.

But they used a 16-6 run at the end of the third quarter to get within eight.

"We just have to learn how to keep the lead," Blount said. "Every team is going to make a run. Every team is going to knock the lead down."

The BayRunners shot 51 percent in the first half led by Tucker's 12 points.

Tucker, starting in place of Brent Dabbs, out with a swollen knee, did most of his work in the first period, scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, driving to the basket on most of his attempts.

"I'm getting more and more comfortable every game," said Tucker, who was one of five BayRunners to score in double figures with a team- and season-high 18. "Most of the guys I check are a lot bigger than I am. I know I have a quickness factor so I just try to take advantage of that."

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