January 31, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

HARRISBURG - Like the women before them, the John A. Logan College men's basketball team faced a nine-point halftime deficit at Southeastern Illinois Saturday (45-36).

Unlike the women, however, the men did not regain the lead until the last 15 seconds of the game, pulling out a 67-65 road victory.

The Volunteers improve to 10-2 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and 19-3 overall. SIC falls to 2-9 in the league and 10-11 overall.

JALC head coach Kyle Smithpeters said he feels fortunate to come away with the win after describing his team's performance as "flat" over the first 20-plus minutes.

"I really feel like we have played to the level of our opponents the last few games," Smithpeters said. "We're just kind of waiting and choosing when we're going to make our runs and it doesn't work that way. That's how you end up losing games because you're giving your opponent confidence that they can play with you.

"Late in the game tonight, we finally started doing the things on both ends of the floor that we needed to do to win the game. We turned a 15-point deficit (51-36) around largely because of tenacious defense," Smithpeters continued. "If we had played that hard the whole game, I think it might have been a 20-point game in our favor."

The driving force for the Vols' comeback was sophomore center Tamas Bruce, who poured in 18 points, yanked down 17 rebounds, and blocked four shots. Moreover, the 6-foot-8 jumping jack had a steal and scored the go-ahead basket with 15 seconds to play. It was without a doubt his best all-around game as a collegian.

"I was waiting for that last pass. I watched his eyes and made my move," Bruce said of the game-winner. "It feels great to make that play for my team."

Bruce said it would have been a blow to let the win slip away.

"I think we had the mindset early on that this was going to be a cakewalk, but they came to play," he said. "In the second half, we played with more energy and never gave up, even when we were down double figures for a while. Our defense is what turned things around."

Devontavius Payne followed Bruce's lead with 17 points. Jalen Perry knocked down 15 with 11 coming in the first half. Michael Tucker, earning his first career start, checked in with eight points and 10 rebounds in limited action due to foul trouble.

The Falcons were paced by Demetrius Levarity's 18 points. Montrell Little banged in 15 and Simon Shafack added 13.

Logan plays at 7:30 Wednesday at Lake Land College in Mattoon.