The Blue Coats faced the South Bay Lakers in this early afternoon game on Martin Luther King day. The Lakers are averaging 122 PPG which is 2nd in the G League and are 1st in field goal percentage shooting 48.4% per game. The South Bay Lakers are came into Wilmington hoping to snap a tough seven game losing streak.
The Blue Coats were able to take advantage of their size early in the game against the Lakers who’s tallest player is 6’10 Kostas Antetokounmpo. Playing small does have its benefits as the big men, Moore and Koumadje, were forced to match up against players out on the perimeter. This didn’t seem to be a problem for the Blue Coats big men.
The Blue Coats were able to take advantage in the 2nd quarter extending their one point lead to 21 by the end of the 2nd quarter with the help of Marial Shayok as he led the Blue Coats with 19 points in the half.
The Blue Coats kept the momentum rolling as they started the 3rd quarter on a quick 10-0 run in the first 2 minutes putting them up 34. Shortly after Koumadje was ejected out of the game for arguing a foul call. He left the game with 10 points 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Coach Johnson commented on the Koumadje ejection after the game “If he is gonna move up and play at the next level, this is all the stuff we tell him everyday, as a guy that comes in to be the 3rd big on a team he can’t be a wildcard. He needs to be the most rock solid consistent player on the team.”
Moore was able to step up for the absent Koumadje through the 2nd half of the game. He ended the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
The South Bay Lakers were able to slowly march their way back and cut into that 34 point led. As the Blue Coats slowed the game down so did their production on offense come to the two minute mark in the 4th the led had shrunk to only eight.
The Blue Coats found their way into foul trouble as Zhaire Smith picked up his 5th foul early in the 4th quarter. Fouls became a problem for the Blue Coats as the Lakers shot 19 free throws which helped bailed out their poor shooting as they were only 9/38 from beyond the arc.
The Blue Coats were able to hold on at the end winning the game 119-109. Marial Shayok led the way with 29 points and Zhaire Smith also had 14 points and was 4/8 from three.
When asked about what areas of his game has improved Zhaire said “Everything, shooting, ball handling, confidence especially for guard position. Looking back at Texas Tech I was playing the 4 and 3 now I’m on the wing.”
This game moves the Blue Coats move to 14-10 and to 4th place in their conference. Their next game is Wednesday against the 19-6 Memphis Hustle at 8 PM ET.