By Jeremy Balan
OAKLAND — University boys basketball coach Randal Bessolo has grown accustomed to the hot and cold shooting his offense can go through.
So, it was no wonder that the Red Devils didn’t panic during a dreadful cold streak during the middle quarters of their 64-58 win over Castlemont of Oakland in the Martin Luther King Jr. Classic at Laney College on Monday.
University (10-8) hit its first six shots from the floor (including
six five from 3-point range) to open up a 22-13 first-quarter lead, then went 0-for-9 from 3-point range in the second quarter to fall behind 30-29 at halftime.
University’s cold shooting began to warm up in the third quarter, but the Knights (7-5) extended the lead to 49-44 heading into the fourth, when the Red Devils caught fire again.
The Red Devils hit four 3-pointers and shot 50 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter to take the lead and pull away.
“You can’t come out hotter than that,” Bessolo said of the first quarter. “Then we had that cold spell, but we believe in our system and it’s just a matter of time until we start hitting again.”
Standout University junior Harold Getz, the Red Devils’ leading scorer and rebounder since returning from an injury in mid-December, got into foul trouble early in the second quarter and only scored nine points, but a trio of University guards carried the load.
Chris Mah, James Burton and David Medoff all scored in double figures and combined to score 40 points. Mah also had a team-high eight assists.
“In the second quarter, Harold got his third foul early and David also got his third,” Bessolo said. “In the third quarter, they were both conservative, and Chris and James picked up the slack. That’s what teams do. When someone is off or in foul trouble, someone has to step up.”
Castlemont was led by guard DaVone Oliver, who scored a game-high 19 points, but the senior didn’t score in the fourth quarter and only took one shot. The Knights were hampered by turnovers throughout, but were particularly out of sync offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring just nine points.
Even with the late offensive struggles, Castlemont head coach Hodari McGavock took issue with the Knights’ defensive effort, specifically their inability to close out on University’s shooters.
“It’s disheartening to watch us self-destruct on defense,” McGavock said. “It’s just normal basketball and our close-out man wasn’t rotating quick enough, and they knocked the shots down. We were just two or three steps slow tonight.”
After a sluggish start to the season, the Red Devils have now won five straight games and will have a showdown with Bay Counties League West rival Stuart Hall on Wednesday. Stuart Hall has won 10 straight games and both teams are 2-0 in early league play.
“Stuart Hall is going to be a big game and I have a lot of respect for them,” Bessolo said. “They’re a tough and aggressive team, and Wednesday night should be a fun game.”
James Burton – 15
Chris Mah – 13
David Medoff – 12
Jack Gale – 9
Harold Getz – 9
DaVone Oliver – 19
Jamelle Corbino – 12
LaDanavan Wilder – 8
Re’Quel Armstrong – 6
Swade Edwards – 5