January 15, 2011

Rice Crosses-Over Ravens

BRONX, NY - In front of a packed crowd full of fans and media at the famous Gauchos Gym, the #4 Rice Raiders (8-4) downed the #6 St. Raymond's Ravens (7-7), 75-63, in an impressive, statement victory on Friday night. The Raiders utilized a blinding press that gave the Raven's backcourt fits all evening long. Devaughn Reid (21 points) was the evening's leading scorer and MVP, a just reward for the lighting-fast facilitator.

The first quarter was an extremely fast-paced and wild affair. Almost every play in the early going concluded with bodies crashing to the floor and it was clear that both teams understood the importance of the game. Reid noted the intensity, "I was very excited. I love playing against St. Ray's, I love this atmosphere." Rice established its full-court press early, forcing turnovers and gaining a quick 6-0 advantage. However, it appeared as if the momentum might shift after Raven forward Daniel Dingle's (16 points, 2 blocks, 2 dunks) two-handed throw-down rocked the gym with 5 minutes to go in the first quarter.

After 8 first quarter points, Reid remained in attack-mode. His probing-penetration led to open looks for his teammates and Rice started to heat up from behind the arc. Nkereuwem Okoro's (12 points) offensive efforts helped keep the Raven's in the game as his 10 first half-points were athletic and well-earned. Rice took a 31-25 edge into the locker-room.

The third quarter was back and forth with each team making a run. The Raiders started the half with 5 straight points, but the Ravens would not go down easily responding with an 8-0 run of their own. Rice swingman, Melvin Johnson (18 points) was hot from distance draining 5 third quarter points, including a long-range trey. Rice maintained a 51-40 advantage heading into the fourth.

In the end, the Raider's full-court pressure never allowed the Ravens to work in a half-court set as Rice dominated the fourth quarter. This type of high-energy defense, combined with Reid's ridiculous ball-handling and Iverson-like crossover proved too much for the Raven's to handle. When asked if his crossover was his go-to move, the Rice guard responded with a smile, "Yeah, it is. I don't wanna tell nobody that, but it is." If Reid continues to cruise through top New York City schools as he did tonight, he won't be able to keep it a secret very long.


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