PORT ARTHUR -- Key late-game breakdowns against a talented opponent added up to a tough loss for Lamar State College Port Arthur Saturday evening.
Trinity Valley Community College topped the Seahawks 74-70 in an NJCAA Region XIV men's basketball game at the Carl Parker Center. The Cardinals outscored LSCPA 10-3 in the final 5:12 to improve to 10-2 on the season, 2-0 in conference.
Travious Grubbs, a sophomore from Silsbee, led the Seahawks with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Alex Williams, a freshman from Houston, scored 12 points as one of four double-digit scorers for the home team, now 4-6 overall and 0-2 in region play.
The Seahawks travel to play Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas at 7 p.m. Wednesday night before taking a holiday break.
They return to the Parker Center Dec. 30-31, when they host the LSCPA Classic.
Williams scored 11 of his 12 points in a first half the Seahawks led 39-31 despite hitting on only 5 of 14 free-throw attempts. They led by 12 points, 52-40, after a 3-pointer by Grubbs with 13:52 left in the second half but committed 12 second-half turnovers against a pressing Cardinal defense and shot only 37 percent from the floor after halftime.
"I was proud of our effort. We've come a long way," coach Lance Madison said when it was over. "We saw Trinity Valley play well while we didn't play up to our potential.
"I thought the bottom line was the free-throw line. We shot poorly at the free-throw line [LSCPA finished 11 for 25 from the stripe, 44 percent, and 44 percent from the field]. We also got kind of careless and made too many turnovers late."
Sophomores Wendell Mitchell, a guard from Rockdale, and Jaime Echenique, a 6-11 sophomore from Colombia, led the Cardinals in the second half as they used their speed and height to creep back from that 12-point deficit. Mitchell finished the night with 27 points and Echenique scored all 10 of his points in the final 20 minutes.
For the Seahawks, both Rodney Brown and Stefan Radosavljevic finished with 10 points.
Mitchell scored back-to-back buckets off the press to tie the game at 54-all with 10:49 left in the game.
Three-pointers by Grubbs and Ethan White, a freshman from San Antonio, gave LSCPA leads of 60-54 and 67-62, the latter with 5:19 to go.
"That was a big three, but I missed a lot of shots down the stretch," said White. "I'm just going to take it as a learning experience. We have a lot of young guys."
Trinity Valley scored nine straight points to take a 71-67 lead, helped by four Seahawk turnovers and superior muscle inside. Rodney Brown's jumper with 33 seconds left brought LSCPA to within two, at 71-69, but Brown missed an and-one free-throw.
Each team turned it over on their next handles, but the killer came when Mitchell stole Williams' pass intended for Grubbs, setting up two Cardinal free throws that built an insurmountable 74-69 lead with 10.3 seconds left.
Williams hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to cap the first half with the Seahawks leading 39-31. At the break, rebounds were nearly even with 18 for TVCC, 16 for the Seahawks. But it ended up 40-33 in favor of the visitors.
"Turnovers and rebounds, we've got to get better than that," Williams said. "They got boards. We started missing shots and giving up turnovers in the press. That was a big difference."