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Round 14 Men’s Recap – Frustrating Cougars loss to Redbacks

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The season for the Cockburn Cougars men was summed up in one night on Saturday where they did so much right to be in a winning position but couldn’t quite close the door and ultimately suffered a frustrating loss to the Perth Redbacks.

It was the second time this season where the Cougars have been in a good position to beat the top four contending Redbacks and they are just two examples of why coach Andrew Cooper is looking for answers to help his team close out these games from winning positions.

The Cougars played host to the Redbacks at Wally Hagan Stadium with Cockburn needing a win to keep any hopes of reaching the playoffs alive.

Despite losing Keegan Phillips to an ankle injury to join brother Luke sidelined, the Cougars welcomed back 271-game vice-captain Seva Chan and started well to lead by six points at quarter-time.

It was then a spectacular second quarter from an offensive perspective with the two teams combining for 76 points and at the half-time break it was Cockburn still leading 61-57.

Cockburn continued to do well in the third quarter opening up a lead as big as 13 points, and the advantage was out to a game high 14 in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars looked right on track with all the momentum, but the Redbacks turned the tide in spectacular fashion with Tevin Jackson continuing his big night and Bryton Hobbs getting rolling.

The Redbacks ended up outscoring the Cougars 32 points to 14 in the fourth quarter and turned that 14-point deficit into a crucial four-point victory.

Gavin Field delivered another 24 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks for Cockburn including going 6/9 from behind the three-point arc.

Courtney Alexander II put up 20 points and 17 rebounds, Taj Benning 19 points, seven boards and four assists, Josh Hunt 16 points, the returning Seva Chan nine points and three assists, and Hayden Bell nine points and three rebounds.

“It was a very frustrating night in the end. It was a game where I felt like we were a better team for three quarters and that’s not for the first time this season,” Cooper said.

“Then credit to the individual of Tevin Jackson and Hobbs, who put the game back in their hands and they were able to get over the line in the end. It was just extremely frustrating because I felt like it’s another one this season that we’ve let get away.

“It’s something that as a coaching staff and a playing group, we’ve got to fix and we’ve got to fix it immediately. It might already be even too late for this season but moving forward we have to fix it because it’s been happening way too often.”

Now that not being able to close out wins from strong positions has become a concerning trend this season for the Cougars and could very well ultimately be what costs them a playoff position, Cooper is trying to ensure it’s something they can fix moving forward.

“I spoke to my assistant Damian Barr at length about it and I’m scratching my head trying to work out how to fix it to be honest,” he said.

“I put a lot of time and effort into making sure we cross the T’s and dot the I’s, and this is one I’m still scratching my head about how we can fix it. It is something that has caused us to be in the position that we are this season and moving forward, it’s something that we have to work on that’s for sure.”

One positive out of Saturday night was the return of experienced point guard Chan who had missed the previous 12 matches to add to his 271-game career.

While he might have understandably been rusty, he also showed how much he’s been missed and Cooper is looking forward to having him build on what he can do now over the rest of the season.

“We knew he would be a little bit underdone no doubt after nine weeks, and it would have been nice to have him back maybe two weeks ago to have him back where we want him to be,
Cooper said.

“But it is obviously good to have him back now and it will serve us better moving forward and he’ll only keep getting better over the next couple of games no doubt.”

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