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Down several players, the Hawks struggle with defense and playing as a unit

LIVERMORE — A pass meant for freshman forward Jajuan Mitchell-Cox, but the attempted dunk didn’t connect and the ball bounced off the rim. Las Positas head coach James Giacomazzi pressed his hands on his forehead in response.

That play summed up the lack of scoring efficiency put on display by the Hawks men’s basketball team against their district rival, Chabot College. On Feb. 8, the Hawks lost to Chabot at home 94-75.

The Hawks have lost four of their last nine games within the last month. Their last six games were two games in a row of losing or winning twice in a row, 4-2 record within that span. 

In their second-to-last home game of the regular season, the Hawks need to find their rhythm and chemistry before they head into the postseason. 

Not much cheering was heard around the building per the continuing no-spectators rule at men’s games since Jan. 24.

The Hawks immediately scored the first field goals of the game, making two buckets for a 4-0 headstart over their visitors in the first half.

However, that early run didn’t continue as Chabot answered right back with a 9-0 run against the Hawks. Giacomazzi called the first timeout four minutes in.

Coming out of the timeout, Chabot did not slow down and the Hawks’ turnovers severed their deficit and chances of a comeback in the first half. The Hawks also led 6-1 in fouls with 11 minutes left.

Not long into the game, Las Positas lost another player on the court. 

Freshman guard CJ Ward landed incorrectly on his left foot after an attempt to score and had to be helped off the court with six minutes left in the first half. Ward sat out for the rest of the game.

Sophomore forward Jordahn Johnson scored most of the Hawks’ buckets in the first half and kept the game within a 10-point deficit. After a half filled with turnovers and foul trouble, the Hawks managed to shrink their deficit without much self-sabotage. 

“We were pretty fortunate to be that close when we didn’t play very well,” Giacomazzi said. 

In the second half, despite a strong start, the Hawks began a downward spiral.

After two fouls on Las Positas and another two points, Isaiah Victor, sophomore guard, scored two three-pointers to tie the game at 44 two minutes into the second half.

Jalen Patterson scored a three-pointer two minutes later to break the 47-47 tie. However, this miracle run wouldn’t last for long. Chabot responded back with threes and forced the Hawks to score inside the arc. After a 57-55 lead, Chabot’s sophomore guard, David Hector, sank a three-point shot to give the lead back to the Gladiators. 

After losing a lead at the halfway mark of the second half, the Hawks ran low on energy while their visitors took charge. 

Sophomore forward Brandon Fisher took his fifth personal foul with 8 minutes left. Ogunleye sank both free throws to give his team a 63-59 lead. A minute later, Johnson went to the line and sank one of two free throws. The Hawks could never get close to their opponents from that point of the game.

“Chabot’s player, Ogunleye, is really physical. They do a good job of where it’s single coverage. He’s very effective around the basket. Then, if you start double-covering him, they have enough shooters on the perimeter that will make you pay. You got to pick your poison” Giacomazzi said. 

With two minutes left on the clock, the Hawks were already down by double-digits. The Hawks were behind 87-73 with two minutes left to go in the game. 

In those crucial minutes, a technical foul was called on Johnson for holding the rim while scoring mid-air. Chabot’s sophomore guard Diggy Winbuch made the free throw to extend the lead to 94-73. 21 points was the largest deficit of the night. 

The Gladiators beat the Hawks at the nest by a final score of 94-75. 

“The bottom line is we got tired at the end of the game. We got an injured player, we had a lot of guys foul out. We were getting down to the bare bones there with our personnel. We were playing fast, and it was benefiting us in the first ten minutes of the second half. In the last ten minutes, it came back and bit us in the butt a little bit” Giacomazzi said. 

This season, the Hawks have expectations set on them after making a 2-1 run in the playoffs last March. With a worse regular season performance and down players, the odds don’t seem good for the Hawks to go far in the playoffs, which begin on March 22. 

“We have to find ways to score easier. We were working very hard to try to get scoring opportunities. We tried to do it and get us back on our own, and we got to try to utilize each other a little better. Get the ball moving side-to-side a little more, get a few more touches, make the defense shift a little bit. We need to take what the defense gives us and be more patient at the same time,” Giacomazzi said.

The Hawks will have their final home game on Friday, Feb. 10, against Skyline College. 

Gibran Beydoun is a freelance writer for Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM

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