From the moment CRC showed up on campus for their walk through, to the focus on the game on the long bus ride to Santa Rosa, to the locker room during pre-game, you could see it and feel it...the players felt like they had something to prove to themselves in this game.
When the Hawks came off the floor from their pre-game warm-ups, they were hungry, excited, and dripping with sweat. You just knew they were ready to compete. Playing on the road at Santa Rosa is always a challenge on many levels. The Bearcubs of SRJC came in #state ranked at #14 and on a current 9-game winning streak leading back to mid-December. That didn't matter to the Hawks players and coaching staff. The respect was there, but the preparation and commitment to playing at a high level was definitely there.
The game was tight with lead changes throughout much of the first half, but with 4 minutes left in the half, Santa Rosa went on a 13-3 run to end the half. The score was 37-28 at halftime.
In the second half, execution and transition offense flowed strongly on CRC's side, and the Hawks cut the lead to 2 points with 16 minutes remaining in the contest. Just as in the first half, there were a few more lead changes until the Bearcubs went on another run of eight straight points. Nonetheless, the CRC players kept fighting and competing. After a Hawks timeout and an inspired minute of motivation and belief from head coach Jonathan James, CRC saw momentum shift back their direction with 3 straight defensive stops and an 10-2 spurt of their own. Jalen Valverde scored on a layup, Everton Maxwell on a drive and dish from De'Rajaee Austin, a drive-and-kick 3 to Jordan Roberson, and another 3 from Austin. Tied at 59 with a few minutes left, it was anyone's game to take.
The Hawks strongly competed throughout but fell short at the end. The Hawks were down two possessions and were forced to foul. SRJC made free-throws and kept that gap in the lead until the buzzer.
SRJC 72, CRC 62...De'Rajaee Austin has really stepped up his game over the last four games and now averages nearly 22 points per game and 76% from the FT line.
CRC moves to 2-4 in the Big 8 Conference and 6-10 overall. The Hawks return home on Saturday to face NorCal ranked #14 Modesto at 3:00pm. The Hawks play 4 straight home games on Clark Court...exactly what they need in Big 8 play right now.