By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
The Rams hung around against Carbondale on Friday night but couldn't pull an upset.
The Terriers topped the Rams 75-66.
“Obviously the biggest thing was our defense was very, very poor tonight,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said.
Mt. Vernon was down 51-45 going into the final quarter after a Dylan Reeves tip in at the buzzer. Carbondale started the final quarter with four straight points from Jordan Kelly to rebuild a cushion. The Terriers padded their lead and moved it to double digits with about four minutes left.
“I know the score was tight at times, but you just never felt like you had a chance to win the game because the pace was too fast and you just weren't getting any stops,” Gamber said.
Mt. Vernon's Braden Fitzjerrells led all scorers with 25 points. Shakari Hawkins added 18, and Jake Pike finished with 16 for the Rams.
Both teams raced up and down the court in the early going, and Carbondale closed the opening period with a run to pull out to a 17-11 edge.
Hawkins brought the Rams to within a possession with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 25-22. Fitzjerrells cut the margin to one when he followed with a layup. Hawkins put an exclamation point on the Rams surge when he raced out in transition and slammed down a dunk to put Mt. Vernon up 26-25.
It was Mt. Vernon's only lead of the game.
Carbondale consistently looked for layups around the basket and were aided by several offensive rebounds. Carbondale finished with a 27-21 edge on the boards.
“I felt like for a while there we were not going to get a stop because they were going to shoot it until they scored,” Gamber said.
Kelly paced a balance Carbondale attack that put five players in double figures. He finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Devontavious Payne added 17 points. He scored Carbondale's opening eight points of the contest.
Mt. Vernon is 14-11 this season and 2-7 in South Seven Conference action. The Rams remain at home against Effingham on Tuesday.