Potent MCC attack topples Hawks

With eight players standing 6-foot-6 or taller and seven tipping the scale at 200 pounds or greater, the Northeast Community College men’s basketball team has its way with just about everyone in the paint.

The first meeting with the Tigers was no different.

But after being outrebounded by 26 in last month’s double overtime contest, the Marshalltown Community College men’s basketball team did what few have been able to do of late – beat the Hawks on the glass.

Winning the battle of the boards 42-32 and earning a 27-10 disparity in second-chance points, the Tigers used their high-energy play to quell a second-half surge from Northeast for a 100-82 victory in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division I contest at the Student Activity Center Saturday.

Mike Rodriguez led a quintet of double-digit scorers with 24 points, while Merdic Green and Troidell Carter each added 22. Jamal Gatali and Guilherme Verardo scored 14 apiece as the Tigers (13-12, 2-5) snapped a three-game skid and clinched homecourt advantage for their play-in game against the Hawks (13-14, 0-7) on Feb. 24.

All of it started with the Tigers’ relentlessness in the paint.

“They’ve been outrebounding everybody in their last eight or nine games,” MCC coach Brynjar Brynjarsson said of Northeast. “They’re big and strong and they really get on the glass. They outrebounded Iowa Western, Indian Hills, Southeastern and we found a way to outrebound them by 10. That was really the turning point.”

The Tigers corralled 20 offensive boards overall and built a 54-40 lead late in the first half with a mix of drives to the basket, putbacks and free throws – including four following a pair of technical fouls from Northeast coach Dan Anderson.

Jabbar Washington buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the opening frame and drilled another to start the second. Buay Tuach made it nine unanswered with a trey of his own and a 15-2 surge culminated with Sheed Fairley’s bucket inside to trim the lead to 56-55 less than 3 minutes in to the second stanza.

“It was a total lack of energy, it looked like we didn’t want to play offense or defense,” Brynjarsson said of his team’s 14-point lead quickly dissolving to one. “It took us awhile to wake up again and we finally did. There were some big plays we made when we could have just folded a bit.”

MCC recreated its cushion with by reasserting itself inside as Rodriguez’s hard-driving layup, Terrell Clyburn’s putback and a Gatali three-point play increased the advantage back to 10.

Carter, who led the Tigers with 10 rebounds – five offensive – added a tip-in and followed Green’s transition basket with another as MCC stretched its advantage to 77-63 with 8 minutes to go. Northeast never got closer than nine the rest of the way as the Tigers continued to own the glass while slicing through the Hawks’ full-court press and finishing with just nine turnovers.

“Our effort could have been better at times, we kind of assumed somebody else would get it,” Anderson said of his team’s trouble on the boards. “Credit Marshalltown, they shot the ball better so there were fewer rebounds to get.”

The Tigers have just one player weighing more than 190 pounds on their roster, but made up for the lack of heft with better discipline in the paint.

“We just had to make sure we put a body on everyone because they’re bigger than us,” said Green, who had seven rebounds (four offensive) while shooting 8-for-9 from the field and 6-for-7 at the line. “We’re coming together as a family and we’re talking more. If you play good defense you win games like this.”

Gatali added eight rebounds and Rodriguez had five to go with six assists. MCC finished 18-of-30 at the stripe, while Northeast made 11-of-17 – matching the Tigers’ first-half output.

After playing nine games in 21 days, the Tigers enjoyed a week-long break to rest their legs and turn all their attention to the Hawks.

“The rest really helped us,” Carter said. “The gameplan was to stick on the boards, play good defense and get our transition offense going.”

The Tigers did all of the above and will seek a similar recipe when they travel to Ellsworth Community College Monday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

Washington and Tuach led the Hawks with 19 and 18 points respectively as Northeast dropped its ninth straight.


MCC had more offensive rebounds (10) than defensive rebounds (8) in the first half. … MCC won a double overtime thriller, 101-100, over Northeast on Jan. 18 in Norfolk, Neb. … The Hawks haven’t won a game since Jan. 4. … Ellsworth won the previous meeting over MCC, 74-73 on Dec. 11 in Marshalltown.