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Bighorns fall short against Arsenal

BY DARRELL MOODY

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” The Reno Bighorns lost for the fourth time in five starts Friday night, and things could get worse before they get better.

Reno hasn’t received any help from its parent clubs ” the New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings ” and Reno coach Jay Humphries said the Bighorns likely won’t see any help from either team.

“We’re facing teams have a couple of (NBA) guys,” Humphries said after a 114-106 loss to Anaheim at the Reno Events Center. “New York has one guy, but he has a bad back and they want to watch it there. Sacramento isn’t playing well right now and they can play their guys there.

“We have to develop these guys, to develop them as players while they are here. I want to win, but sometimes that’s not in the cards.”

One thing that Humphries said needs to get better is the team’s mental toughness.

“It (the toughness) needs to come together,” Humphries said. “We get up by six and then we start playing a little loose. We could be 3-2 (instead of 1-4). Utah beat us pretty good, but (against) Bakersfield and Anaheim down there we didn’t finish. These guys are young. We have to use it as a learning experience.”

Still, it’s a frustrating experience.

“We get it there and then blow a lead,” said forward Antonio Meeking, who led the Bighorns with 27 points and nine rebounds. “We didn’t step up when we needed to.”

Friday was a microcosm for the young season.

Reno blew a 65-60 third-quarter lead, and after pulling to within 89-87 with 7 minutes, 55 seconds left, Anaheim went on a 13-4 run to open up a 102-91 lead with 3:18 left in the game.

James White, who scored 23 points, started the surge with a bucket in the paint, and after a Meeking miss, Noel Felix (19 points) was fouled and made one of two from the line to make it 93-87. Jesse Smith , who scored 15 points and grabbed 11 boards for Reno, hit one of two from the line to make it 93-88.

Reno was called for a defensive 3-second violation on the ensuing possession, and Anaheim’s Tierre Brown, who scored 21 points, knocked down a free throw. After inbounding the ball, Cedric Bozeman, the former UCLA star, hit a runner going across the lane to make it 96-88.

Bozeman, Brown and White, who combined for 73 of Anaheim’s 114 points, appeared to be tough matchups for Reno. They were a combined 26-for-44 from the floor.

Anaheim improved to 2-5.

“They made some shots,” Humphries said. “I thought our defensive rotation was pretty good. They made shots when it counted. They were getting some penetration and the guards weren’t missing.

“Our guys are capable of matching up. Felix had a good game inside. We tried to double him (sometimes) and that left guys open outside.”

Reno did cut the lead to 96-90, but White drilled a 3-pointer following a Reno turnover to make it 99-90. Brown scored on a breakaway and then dropped in a free throw for a 102-91 advantage. The Bighorns never got closer than six the rest of the way.

In the first half, the teams were never separated by more than eight points, and that was in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the game when the Arsenal rolled to a quick 10-2 lead as White scored six of his eight first-half points in that span.

After that early outburst, the Bighorns settled down and pulled to within 26-24 after scoring 10 of the final 16 points of the quarter.

Bozeman, who had 13 first-half points for the Arsenal, scored on a three-point play and then added a tough shot in the key 30 seconds later for a 42-39 advantage with 4:53 left in the half.

After White and Reno’s Damone Brown traded baskets, the Bighorns went on a 10-4 run to take a 51-48 lead at the intermission.

Meeking and David Noel (17 points) keyed the charge with four points apiece and Smith added a bucket.

Reno, behind the scoring of Meeking, built its lead to 61-55, but the Arsenal fought back to take a 67-65 lead thanks to 12-3 surge led by Brown and White, who scored four and five points respectively in the surge.

The game was tied at 67 and 69. Anaheim took a 81-75 lead after three quarters thanks to a three-point play by Bozeman, a jump shot by Ayinde Ubaka and a free throw by ex-California star Geno Carlisle, who scored 13 off the bench for Anaheim.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or (775) 881-1281