Austin explodes late to pick up win over Decatur

Basketball is a game of runs, and Friday night, the Austin Black Bears showed why that is.

The Bears made the trek across town to take on the Decatur Red Raiders in the annual River City rivalry Friday and came away with a 76-64 win.

The game’s crucial moment came at the end of the third quarter/beginning of the fourth quarter, when, after Decatur had cut the lead to 49-48, Austin exploded on a 24-4 run to put the game on ice.

“I told our guys before that this was going to be a game of runs,” said Austin head coach Major Deacon. “They made theirs, and then we stepped up and made ours.”

Austin (2-4) was as strong at the start as they were at the end. After starting 0 for 5 from the field, they finished the first quarter with a 23-12 lead. By halftime, they led 41-29.

“We won three of the four quarters,” Deacon said. “Most importantly, we started strong and ended strong, and that’s all we can really hope for.”

Decatur didn’t go away and in the third quarter mounted a big comeback. Shawn Hullett knocked down three triples, and Kobe Johnson added eight of his team-high 19 points as the Red Raiders came back to within one point.

But, just as quickly as they had come back, Austin broke away to put the game out of reach.

“It was all about defense,” said Eddie Mitchell, who led Austin with 19 points. “We had let them back in the game, and once we had gotten back in motion, we were able to steal the momentum and put the game away.”

Decatur has made a living this season off comebacks, but Friday, their mistakes were just too much to overcome.

“Offensive rebounds were big for them. They probably had 25-30,” said Decatur head coach Kori Walker. “They just killed us on the glass and with second-half points. We made adjustments and came back in the third, but the rebounding just really hurt us.”

Austin has had a tough start to the season, having faced multiple elite teams, but it’s because of that schedule that Deacon believes they were ready to answer the call Friday.

“We play those tough teams so that when the moment comes, we’re prepared,” Deacon said. “When they went on a run, I knew we would answer.”

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