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Hawks snap two-game losing streak against rival Panthers

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As rain poured outside on Jan. 20, the Cosumnes River College men’s basketball team weathered the storm on the court and avoided a third straight loss by beating its rival, the Sacramento City College Panthers, 72-69.

Hawks’ sophomore forward Tony Gill led all scorers with 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

Gill said Friday’s win felt great since the Panthers prevailed in their previous match this season. CRC lost the championship game of the annual Hawks Invitational tournament to Sacramento City.

“It’s huge,” Gill said. “We remember when they took our championship here the first time when they beat us by one.”

The Hawks sustained a 17-6 run by the Panthers that cut their early 12-point lead to one going into halftime.

The second half was neck-and-neck until two free throws from sophomore forward JJ Mina with seven seconds left put the Hawks up by three.

With time expiring, the Panthers had a chance to send the game into overtime after freshman guard DeSean Atkins missed a free throw attempt that left freshman forward Antwoine Davis with the rebound and an open 3-point attempt.

Davis’ shot, however, failed to find the basket and beat the buzzer.

Hawks’ head coach James Giacomazzi said his team had trouble finding a steady shooting rhythm throughout the game, so they made the necessary adjustments to put up shots closer to the basket.

“We usually make some shots from the perimeter that make it easier, and we didn’t really shoot well from the perimeter today,”  Giacomazzi said. “So we got to the rim. We tried to drive it. We tried to get the ball inside.”

Getting to the rim led to free throws, as the Hawks shot a near perfect 23-26 from the line, while the Panthers missed nine of their 22 attempts.

“Last game [against the Panthers] coach put that on the whiteboard,” said Gill, who was a perfect 10-10 from the line, including four straight before Mina’s two sealed the deal. “We went 10-22 and we lost by one. Good teams make free throws.”

Friday’s win helped the Hawks regain some momentum as they prepare to take on second seeded Santa Rosa at CRC on Tuesday night. The Bear Cubs are currently undefeated in Big 8 play.

“It’s a confidence booster,” Gill said. “We’ve had some trouble closing out some games. This is reassuring to know that we can close out games against good teams.”

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Hawks snap two-game losing streak against rival Panthers