ROSWELL, Ga. — For Roswell basketball head coach Ty Phillips, Saturday’s 70-66 loss to Kennesaw Mountain came down to execution.
“When we executed, we got what we wanted,” Phillips said. “But you have to give [Kennesaw Mountain] credit, they took us out of execution and our comfort zone.”
Roswell took 20 free throws in the first half, but nearly half missed the mark. The Mustangs also brought relentless backcourt pressure in the second half, resulting in multiple turnovers and mistakes from the Hornets.
But they were never out of it.
“We battled hard, we just fell short,” Phillips said.
With both teams playing tight defensively, neither team found many open looks in the first half. A sizeable chunk of the Hornets’ points came from the free-throw line.
Roswell found momentum late in the second quarter, opening a 29-23 lead at the half. Roswell would open and 11-point lead in the third, but failed to score on three straight possessions. The Mustangs would claw back to tie the game at 37-37 at the end of the quarter.
In what had been a defensive battle with most shots tightly contested in the paint, the offensive output of both teams exploded in the fourth quarter, mostly from beyond the arc.
The Mustangs opened the period with a field goal and two quick three-pointers. After a technical foul against the Mustangs and two free throws from Miles Herron, senior Ryan Brennan hit threes on consecutive possession to draw even.
The flurry of threes continued as Kennesaw Mountain hit two more in three possessions.
Trailing 59-52, Brennan hit another three, but Kennesaw Mountain responded with a fast break and a bucket from beyond the arc of their own with under two minutes left.
Threes from Kolby Wade and Herron, along with two Herron field goals, tied the game at 66-all with 15 seconds remaining.
On their ensuing possession, the Mustangs scored on a contested layup. A foul on the shot and made free throw put them up by three with five seconds left.
Roswell’s inbounds pass would hit the scoreboard, resulting in a turnover and an anticlimactic end to the thrilling final period.
“[Kennesaw Mountain] is a good team, a state tournament type of team,” Phillips said. “We just did not play as well as we needed to, and a lot of that falls on me. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching and preparing.”
Phillips was still quick to commend his team for their never-say-die spirit against the undefeated Mustangs (5-0, 1-0).
“I love our kids and they played hard,” he said. “When we don’t execute it’s not for a lack of trying.”
Herron led the team in scoring with 32 points, followed by Wade and Brennan with 13. Aaron Caffey compiled seven rebounds.
Roswell opens its Region 4-AAAAAAA schedule against on the road against Lassiter next Tuesday. The Hornets went 9-1 in region games during the regular season last year.