HURRICANE, W.Va. — If a season-opening win over George Washington was a step in the right direction for Capital, Friday's victory has to be considered a giant leap forward.
The Cougars flashed grit, guts, and skill in surviving an early Hurricane onslaught and coming away with a 72-69 road win in front of a near-capacity crowd.
It wasn't just that the Cougars won, it was the fashion in which they did it that was impressive.
The Redskins stormed out of the gate, hitting 13 of 17 shots in the first quarter in building a lead that reached as much as 15 early in the second period. Carrington Morris, Capital's star player, could only watch from the sidelines after not starting due to a coach's decision.
Even when he entered midway through the first quarter, he had difficulty getting into a flow and scored just two first-half points as the Redskins (2-1) led 39-32 at the break.
"I went in at halftime knowing what I did wrong and knowing what I had to do," Morris said. "When I came out of halftime, everything just came together."
In a big way.
Morris scored nine points in the first 1:47 of the first half, then converted a three-point play with 6:23 left in the third to tie the game for the first time.
He'd go on to score 14 of his team-best 21 points in the third period. He added 10 rebounds, six steals, and four assists.
"He has a tendency to do that," Capital coach Carl Clark said of Morris' slow start. "He'll miss some shots and do something real bad and all of the sudden he'll start hitting and his game will just rise. He's a unique kid and a unique player and he's definitely one of the better players in the state."
And this year, Morris apparently has a lot of help.
Bryce Goldsmith held Capital (2-0) in the game early as he scored 11 first-quarter points and finished with 16 and seven rebounds. Then there was Leondre Rogers, who came off the bench and didn't attempt a shot in the first period, but scored nine in the second on his way to 16 points.
Further illustrating Capital's depth was Aalik Harris, who didn't attempt a shot over the first 31/2 quarters only to step up, knock down a pair of free throws and then an NBA-range 3-pointer to stretch the Cougars' late lead to 68-62.
Hurricane responded with a Henry Sorsaia free throw and two buckets from Trey Dawson to bring it back to within one point.
After Morris and Sorsaia traded baskets to make the score 70-69 Capital, Morris made one of his few mistakes in the second half by forcing up a shot with about 30 seconds left.
But Hurricane turned it over on the ensuing possession, and a free throw apiece from Morris and Jordan Kinney completed the scoring.
"We have a bunch of young players and that is a seasoned basketball team, a good seasoned basketball team," Clark said. "They came out and they were ready to play and our kids didn't drop their heads. They weathered the storm and I think eventually our bench is the big difference. Our kids came off the bench and contributed tremendously to getting back into the game and eventually winning the game."
Indeed, while Capital was getting contributions from seemingly everywhere, just five players scored and even attempted a shot for the Redskins.
Sorsaia led the charge with 23 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Dawson with 17 points, Garrett DeFries with 14, and Ace Estep with 13.
Hurricane did itself no favors at the charity stripe late, as Sorsaia and DeFries combined to go 1 for 8 in the final period — and Sorsaia's one made shot came after a Capital lane violation negated a miss.
"Basketball is a game of runs, we had ours early, they had ours in the middle, and then it was a dogfight," Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said. "It's all preseason anyway, but Capital is a very good basketball team."
After knocking down their first three 3-point buckets, Hurricane went just 2 for 10 the rest of the way.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org
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