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Monsters Top Mesa


It wasn't flashy; it wasn't spectacular, but it was a win. After dropping two consecutive ACCAC (Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) games, a win is exactly what the Gila Monsters needed. On Saturday, EAC (9-4, 4-2) defeated the Mesa Thunderbirds, 78-70, and even though it wasn't the most dominating performance Eastern has had this season, there were plenty of bright spots. Jerryck Owens-Murrey, Ervin Youmans and Marcus Palmer each scored 16 points. "What you found out is that we have a lot of depth and balance," EAC head coach Tim Parmeter said. "One of the things we need to drastically improve on is being able to understand where we have an advantage on any given night." Owens-Murrey had a great second half, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the final 20 minutes. "Basically, it was the team coming together," Owens-Murrey said. "It wasn't anything I did personally, but we decided that whoever was open was going to get the ball. I just happened to be open the most, I guess.

"They started slacking off of me, and I was glad I was able to convert for my team," sophomore Owens-Murrey said. Parmeter said, "Owens-Murrey was very good in the second half and was pretty steady throughout." Eastern had a rough time getting its offense rolling early in the first half and did not catch up with Mesa (6-3, 3-2) until 8:47 was left in the first half, when Eastern tied the game at 23. The Gila Monsters never trailed and battled their way to the end to record the victory. With a balanced attack Eastern had from both the frontcourt and backcourt, the Monsters had the luxury of taking advantage of good play in the paint. If the things weren't working down low, EAC relied on kicking the ball out to sharp-shooters Youmans and Gabor Boros (seven points). "I think our overall balance is really our strength. We've got six guys who have scored more than 20 points (this season), " Parmeter said. "We can do it on the perimeter, we can do it inside and we've got some guys that can create things off the dribble." Eastern led 38-34 at halftime and ground its way through the rest of the game with its biggest lead, 50-39, coming at the 16:03 mark. "Overall, the good thing is that we found out what our strengths and weaknesses are," Parmeter said. "So now, when we come back from the break, we need to keep on improving on what we've learned." Mesa cut EAC's lead to 67-65 with 4:41 left, but the Monsters went on a 11-5 run to end the game. "We believe we are one of the best teams — if not the best team in the conference," Owens-Murrey said. "Getting a win before the break, being able to go home and say, 'okay, we're going to come back and handle our business' is excellent." Most of the Gila Monsters are already on their way home for the Christmas break and will return to the Gila Valley on Dec. 30. "We have the pieces to be pretty good," Parmeter said. "Hopefully, we've learned that everybody can beat us, but we've been the cause of both our wins and our losses so far." The men's coaching staff is traveling to the Midwest to visit families during the break and will sneak away to do some recruiting, as well. After the break, the Monsters have a home game against Madison Area College on Jan. 3 before taking on two ACCAC opponents (Scottsdale and Pima) on the road.

"Right now, our goals are to win one game at a time. It's easy to get caught up looking ahead, and that's pretty much what happened against Western and Phoenix (both losses)," Owens-Murrey said. "We had a few good wins under our belts, and we started talking about a championship before we started talking about playoffs. "Our serious focus right now is that what we've done is great, but we need to take games one by one and take care of business if we're going to be cutting down the nets."

Andy Hansen, Sports Editor

Eastern Arizona Courier