ROCKVILLE – In a game filled with scoring runs, the Prince George’s Community College men’s basketball team looked poised to make a final comeback after tying the game at 78 with less than three minutes remaining. However, Montgomery College fended off their cross-county rivals to earn a 90-84 victory on Jan. 25.
The result ends Prince George’s three-game winning streak, where the average margin of victory was 36.6 points per contest. However, they were coming into the road game playing against a Montgomery College team (14-5), who had only lost to one Maryland JUCO opponent.
The Owls (13-6) jumped out right away, scoring seven unanswered points and taking a quick 10-2 lead. However, Montgomery College fired back with a 12-2 run of their own, capturing its first lead of the game early in the first half. Both teams looked to take advantage of each other’s mistakes and continued to go on multiple runs to recapture an advantage.
The Raptors ended the first half going on a mini-run once again, this time scoring six of the final seven points before the buzzer sounded like taking a seven-point lead. As time was set to expire, guard Nicholas Johnson converted a dunk to capitalize on the successful first half by Montgomery College.
“We knew it was going to be a challenging game,” Head Coach Keith Byrd said. “But we had to play the game all the way through; We knew they have a run but we had to play the game all the way through and my guys play well.”
Prince George’s did not give up, going on a 14-4 run anchored by forward Isaiah Miles and center David Burriss. Miles started the streak of points battling in the paint for a quick layup. However, he pushed a Raptor player after the converted basket, leading to a technical foul being called for unsportsmanlike conduct. The road bench stood up, upset with the call.
“I get really emotional playing the game,” Miles said. “I like to play with a lot of emotion and keep our team wild up so we can keep going and produce.”
Fueled by the call, the Owls flew out to score 14 of the game’s 17 points and recapturing the lead at 53-52 with 13 minutes remaining in the second half. Miles finished the game with 21 points and 21 rebounds in a double-double performance.
However, turnovers plagued the Owls and their ability to maintain their advantage as Montgomery College stormed back to take a 12-point lead, the largest of the game, after going on an explosive 13-1 run. While the Raptors struggled to score 3-pointers, going 1 for 11, they scored 19 points off the 20 turnovers they forced.
Guard Isaiah Jennings led the effort as he finished the game scoring 25 points while sophomore Agyei Edwards added 24 points. Montgomery regained its double-digit advantage as guard Marlon Pratt stripped the Owls’ Jasper Sterling, mid-dribble for a transition layup midway through the second half.
Byrd said while steals and defense are a part of Montgomery’s game plan, their main focus was to contain Tunde Scrivner, Prince George’s point guard. He was averaging 25 points per game, along with 11.5 assists.
Against the Raptors, the sophomore scored 17 points and made nine assists, but he turned the ball over seven times, just enough to help Montgomery College regain the lead late in the contest.
“This is the turning point for us,” Jennings said. “Offensively, everyone can score, but defensively, when we come together, we look a lot better.”
The Owls fought back for one more 13-4 run late in half, dropping their deficit to three points with 3:51 remaining. Sterling came up big for Prince George’s late, tying the game up twice with a layup and free throws at 80 to give themselves a chance to win. However, four straight points, including a dunk by Nicholas, sealed the win for Montgomery College.
“We have to close better,” Owls Head Coach William West said. “We turned the ball too many times and allowed 19 points off of turnovers. You are not going to win any games doing that.”
Despite the win and the team’s goals for the future, Byrd said improvements need to be made before competing for championship glory.
“There is a lot of basketball games ahead of us,” Byrd said. “Sometimes, when play a good opponent and you play against one of your rivals, it feels like the championship. (PGCC) has a good team and that’s why our guys were ready to play today.”