In a matchup between two prolific outside shooting teams Wednesday, it was defense and accuracy from the free-throw line that made all the difference for East Union.
Coming off their toughest defeat of the early season, the Lancers aimed to wrap up their pre-league schedule on a high note and did so in the form of a 65-60 win over visiting Riverbank at Dalben Center. East Union (8-4) was held to three 3-pointers, all from Austin Miller, against nine for Riverbank (6-7) but sank 15 of 17 free-throw attempts.
The turning point for the Lancers came in the third quarter. Trailing 32-23 at halftime, they outscored the Bruins 19-10 in the third and got the bulk of their points from the charity stripe where they were 11-of-12. They were also able to cool off Juan Hernandez, who made four 3s and scored 13 points in the first half but was blanked over the final two periods. Wolfgang Lopez led Riverbank with 19 points.
“We did a better job defensively in the third quarter and got to the free-throw line,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “We had only two free throws in the first half but made eight trips to the line in the third quarter alone. And it makes things easier by making most of them when trying to win a close ballgame.”
Sharpshooting Gyse Hulsebosch didn’t make a 3-pointer but did enough damage inside the arc, finishing with 17 points while making all five of his free throws. Miller wound up with 15 points, and Malik Thomas had nine.
East Union blew a 23-point lead and dropped an 86-81 heartbreaker to Buhach Colony in its last contest on Dec. 22. The Lancers host Kimball next Tuesday to start Valley Oak League play.
“The game we played last week against Buhach was pretty disappointing,” Tarr said. “We just wanted to put ourselves in a better situation to win. We wanted to improve in the areas we needed to improve on in order for us to be successful in league.”