Boys basketball: Merrillville rebounds with win over Munster
Updated: February 5, 2012 12:04AM
MUNSTER — One night after a deflating conference loss to Crown Point, Merrillville made up for that lackluster effort with a 54-53 win over Munster.
“It’s is a testament to the players, their will to win, and their commitment to the team,” said Merrillville (9-7, 6-5 DAC) coach TJ Lux. “This was a big point in the season; how we were going to respond tonight. Hopefully this will be the springboard we need to propel us forward.”
The winning points came from the right hand of Zoran Talley, who’d spent much of the second half firing from the corner, behind the 3-point line. With 10 seconds remaining and his team trailing by one, Talley again took a pass in that same spot. This time, he drove to the basket, lofting a runner over the Munster defense.
“Coach told me to be more aggressive instead of settling for the shot all the time,” said Talley, who scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. “I settled for the corner shot a lot during the game, so when I got the ball again in the corner I decided to switch it up.”
Just before Talley’s game-winner, Munster’s Scott Jerge missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Pirates a chance to take the lead. Then after Talley’s basket, Munster threw the ball away — one of several Mustangs errors in the game’s final minutes.
“Halfway through the fourth quarter, we were up by five,” Munster (13-3, 5-0 NCC) coach Mike Hackett said. “Then, we did things that cause you to lose games and they did things that cause you to win games. We mishandled the ball, we missed layups, we missed free throws, we played poor defense, I made a bad play call; it can be spread around among us. We just need to learn from this.”
Trailing 31-29 at the half, Munster outscored Merrillville 15-9 in the third period, taking a lead that would extend into the fourth quarter. Nate Bubash scored eight points in the third quarter, part of his team-high 19. But Munster’s lead evaporated at the 3:56 mark of the final quarter, when back-to-back threes by Talley and BJ Jenkins moved the Pirates ahead 49-48.
Then, down the stretch, Merrillville made the key plays for the win.
Said Lux: “The key was our patience and our execution. We never got in a hurry and we didn’t panic. I think we showed tremendous poise late in the game and handled the pressure well.”