By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor
Follow him at @ColeSheeks
Bluejays’ men’s basketball stretched their winning streak to three games on Dec. 2 as Lance Gardner and Derek Dotlich combined for 30 points in a 64-58 victory over the Carroll Pioneers.
While the final outcome was a positive one for EC, the victory did not come without adversity.
“To start the first half we were pretty stagnant, we didn’t move the ball much. They gave us a lot of pressure,” said EC junior forward Lance Gardner.
Carroll forced seven first half turnovers with a pair of steals and three blocked shots before the Bluejays cut their turnover total to three in the second half while preventing any steals or blocked shots against their offense.
“In the second half, coach made some adjustments, put us in a more spread out offense to create more space,” said Gardner. “It gave us more opportunities to get to the rim instead of having to stand in one spot the whole time.”
Gardner finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds, shooting 5 of 8 from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from three-point range.
The Bluejays took a four-point lead into the locker room; however, the Pioneers quickly battled back and closed the gap, eventually taking a four-point lead of their own with 16:18 left to play.
It was at that point when EC sophomore forward Derek Dotlich stepped up and knocked down a series of shots that put his team back in front for good.
“The [three-point shots] I hit, I was wide open,” said Dotlich. “[Redshirt freshman] Jake Rhode does a really good job getting into the paint and kicking out. I’m fortunate enough to play with a great point guard like him that opens me up for a few opportunities, and I knocked them down.”
Dotlich ended up with 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, in addition to eight rebounds and a pair of assists.
With the victory, the Bluejays moved to 4-1, 1-0 CCIW on the season, while the Pioneers dropped to 2-3, 0-1 CCIW.
“We needed this one,” said Gardner. “We lost that one in Blackburn that I feel we shouldn’t have lost, but we needed [this], coming back and winning two, then winning tonight.”
The Bluejays head to Decatur to face Millikin on Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. before heading back home to play Wheaton College at EC on Dec. 9.
“Right now, we’re just focused on ourselves,” said Dotlich. “The [CCIW preseason coaches poll] picked us eighth, so we kind of take that a little personal, so we’re just worried about us and we’ll figure out [Millikin next] week.”