Saturday night in Bakersfield pitted the same two teams, and with the same result, as the Jam completed a two game sweep of the Reno Bighorns in a 118-111 victory.
But the theme of the game was much different. In this game, it was the Jam that came out to a 14 point first quarter lead, a direct contrast to the first game. Bakersfield came out better prepared defensively, holding Reno to 37% shooting on 10-27 shots.
The Jam blocked four shots in the quarter, two by Renaldo Major, who said, “I think our defense really showed up tonight, that’s what we harp on in practice.” Offensively, the Jam came out hot from the three point line, making four of six three pointers in the first quarter alone. For the game, they shot 12-22 for 54.5%, and it proved to be a difference maker.
Unlike the previous game, the two clubs competed hard and kept it a tight game the entire contest, with 13 lead changes and eight ties. The Jam lead reached a game high 14 in the first quarter, while the Bighorns made a run to start the third quarter for a 10 point cushion at 70-60. But the Jam tightened it up defensively to take a one point lead (82-81) at the end of the third. Adrian Thomas hit 3 three pointers in the quarter to provide a big spark off the bench.
“In the third quarter we were down 10, and coach harped on us, saying we have to play defense for 48 minutes, and we did,” said Major. The fourth quarter was another example of how big the defense plays a key role in the teams’ make-up, as Major added, “Our defense has to be there and it really showed up in the fourth quarter, and it was a big win for us.” And he went on to say, “We got 10 players that are all capable of playing as starters. We’re like one big family on the court, we all get along well and we all pull for each other. Plus we play defense so hard, you need all the guys to play.”
For the visitors, they were led again by Blake Ahearn with 30 points and eight assists, Cedric Bozeman with 19 and eight assists, Nick Fazekas 17 and 10 rebounds, and Doug Thomas 13 and 14 rebounds respectively. As a group, Reno shot 42.7% (40% from 3-point) and totaled 41 rebounds and 24 assists.
The Jam continue to share the wealth offensively, with all five starters scoring in double figures, and the bench contributed 32 points. Brian Butch led the way with 27 points to go with 13 rebounds (11 def.), Mustapha Farrakhan 19 and seven assists with two steals, a near triple double for Major, with 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and three blocked shots, Osiris Eldridge 12 and four assists, Adam Koch 11 and eight rebounds with two blocks. The 32 bench points were led by Thomas with nine, and Justin Graham added eight with six assists. The Jam totals showed 49.4% shooting, 50 rebounds, and 27 assists. Bakersfield travels to Reno Friday night, as the two will square off again for a third straight time.