BayRunners make it four in row, top

Rhythm by 7

Ninth double double by Elliott leads 99-92 win

April 28, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

For a few seconds after his team's 99-92 win over the Richmond Rhythm in front of 3,312 at Baltimore Arena last night, BayRunners coach Terry Truax could not remember the last loss.

Not that he wanted to anyway. Rather than dwell too much on the past, Truax talked about the difference between a team that has won four in a row, as the BayRunners have, and a team that had lost 22 straight.

"We're rebounding and sharing the ball," Truax said. "We have a rebound consciousness. If you rebound, defend and take good shots, the skill level is so close that you should come out on top. I think the siginificant thing is that we've beaten three teams that are going to the playoffs next week. That is a very nice accomplishment for a team this late in the season."

The BayRunners won last night by out-rebounding the Rhythm 53-41 including a season-high 17 by Rodney Elliott, who also scored 15 points -- his ninth double double of the season.

One would think after such a solid performance that Elliott would be pleased, but his mood was a little tempered by the winning streak's lateness.

Four straight is a season-high winning streak for the BayRunners (17-45), who play at Cincinnati tomorrow before coming home to play Trenton in the season-finale Sunday.

"I'm kind of upset at our [good] mood right now, because we should have had this mood a long time ago," Elliott said. "We are playing a lot looser right now. It is sad to say that it came this late in the season. But this is what we are capable of doing, and we should have been doing this at the beginning of the season. But we can't cry over spilled milk, because we are playing well right now."

Well -- and with a lot more confidence down the stretch in close games. The Rhythm (23-39), down nine points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, pulled within two of the BayRunners, 88-86, with three minutes left.

But Anthony Tucker answered with a short jumper inside the paint to get the lead to four and start a trend that repeated itself for the remainder of the game.

Each time the Rhythm cut the lead to two, the BayRunners answered with a basket, the most important coming from a tip-in by Elliott off a shot by Shawnta Rogers to put the lead up 97-92 with 32 seconds left.

Plays like that were not made during the team's 22-game losing streak.

"Two weeks ago, if Shawnta takes the shot in the lane and we are up two, Rodney might not have been in the position to get the tip in," Truax said. "Everybody has stepped up his game just a little but it is enough collectively to give us an opportunity to be successful. There is no great coaching strategy. It is the same system, we are just executing it better."

The BayRunners held a 54-50 lead at halftime. Richmond coach Ralph Sampson, whose team has locked up the third and final spot for the playofs, played 11 guys in the first half, with none getting under 10 minutes or over 14.

BayRunners tonight

Opponent: Cincinnati Stuff

Site: Firstar Center, Cincinnati

Time: 7:30

Outlook: The BayRunners won the previous game against the Stuff by two last week in Baltimore. Cincinnati get a first-round bye in the International Basketball League playoffs and will play the winner of Richmond and Trenton. The BayRunners were 7-5 going into last night's game when they shot over 50 percent.

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