November 14, 2018 10:47:54 PM
Two games might not make a trend, but Brian Merkel wants to find a solution before the Mississippi University for Women's men's basketball team makes slow starts a habit.
For the second-straight game in its first season, The W fell behind by double digits in the first half only to rally in the second half. Unlike in the season opener against Blue Mountain College, The W couldn't cut the deficit to single digits in the second half en route to an 86-68 loss to Talladega College before a crowd of 285 at Pohl Gymnasium.
"I got to find something to get us off to better starts," Merkel said. "I assume we played them around even (46-45 The W) in the second half. We have got to find a way to come out to a better start. I don't know whether it is pre-game routine, warmups, who is playing, I don't know what the answer is, but we have to find it before our next game."
Jarin Hilson had 15 points to lead four players in double figures for Talladega (7-1), which shot 56 percent (14-for-25) from the field in the first half to build a 41-22 lead. The Tornadoes were 7-for-14 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. They finished 11-for-25 (44 percent) from beyond the arc.
On Monday, The W fell behind Blue Mountain College by as many as 16 points in the first half. The Owls cut the deficit to 62-61 before a technical foul on a dunk by Ill'yan Scott helped end the run.
On Wednesday, the Owls scored the first seven points of the second half and looked re-energized. Unfortunately, the Tornadoes responded with a 7-0 spurt that saw the Owls go 0-for-5 from the field with two turnovers.
"We talked to them at halftime that the guys who are going to come out and fight and play hard are the guys we're going to go with," Merkel said. "I was proud of our team there in the second half. When you dig yourself that big of a hole, it takes so much energy to get back. It seems like every possession is magnified because you almost have to be perfect to get back in the game. It is a hard way to play."
The W surged again later in the half, cutting the deficit to 66-53. But the Owls couldn't stack stops to cut deeper into the Tornadoes' lead.
Shon Wright led The W (0-2) with 17 points off the bench. Former Starkville High School and East Mississippi Community College standout Keith Harris (13 points) was the only other Owl in double figures. D.J. Clark added nine points and eight rebounds.
The W will play host to Wiley College at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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