Forward Adam Denison collected 25 points, Juwan Johnson added 19 and the Tribe sheltered a fourth-quarter run from visiting Sullivan Central to secure a 74-63 victory inside the Buck Van Huss Dome.
The win helped erase memories — no, nightmares — of last week’s Big 8 Conference opener, a 58-40 loss at David Crockett. D-B (2-3, 1-1) endured a miserable evening from the floor in that defeat, making just 16 of 68 shots.
Tuesday night, the Indians were much more efficient. Aided by 11 first-half turnovers from Central (3-4, 1-1), a 21-13 lead after one period quickly stretched to 40-21 by halftime. D-B was lethal in transition.
“When you can get the ball in the basket, it makes a few things a little bit different,” Morgan said. “Pretty good balance there, but we’ve still got to get scores in the paint. I don’t think you’re going to win many games shooting jump shots.”
Johnson made all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half. That allowed Denison all kinds of space around the paint to work; he seemed to enjoy himself. And that wasn’t all.
Not only did the Indians score, they outworked the Cougars during the opening two periods.
“We kind of overlooked Crockett,” Denison said. “We went in there thinking we had it, and had no energy. Tonight, we came out to prove ourselves. We had better energy and defense.”
Despite trailing by as many as 22 points in the third period, Central never crumbled. In fact, the Cougars, behind Taylor Winchell, closed the third on a 15-6 run.
A pair of Winchell free throws cut the deficit to eight points with five minutes remaining, but two more turnovers — pushing the final tally to 22 — ensured a loss.
Nathan Vannoy led Central in scoring with 24 points. Winchell added 22.
“We didn’t do a very good job in the second half keeping them from putting the ball in the basket,” Morgan said. “We’ve got to get stops with our defense. That’s the only way we’re going to be successful in the long run.”
Earlier, a stifling display in the second half kept the Lady Indians perfect on the season via a 56-46 win.
Reserve Hillary Gray keyed a 9-0 third-quarter run that provided D-B (5-0, 2-0) with a cushion. It was needed.
Central (6-1, 1-1), behind some full-court pressure, pulled within nine with 3:34 to play. Two defensive lapses, however, both leading to Tribe lay-ins, sealed it for the hosts.
“I thought we played better in the second half,” Indians coach Roger France said. “I thought we got the ball inside much better in the second half. Hillary was a big factor; she’s going to be a big factor for us.”
Gray anchored D-B offensively, posting 15 points. Megan Devine added 13 and Juli Osborne nine.
Jacqueline Kestner and spark plug Kim Wood each closed with 16 points for Central. The Indians held Erika Blizard, normally one of the Lady Cougars’ main scoring options, to only one point.
Perhaps more damaging was the Lady Cougars’ display in the third period. They managed just four points in the frame.
“There were a lot of things that happened in the third quarter,” Central coach Gary Surcey said. “The basic thing is we didn’t get it done for about five minutes. And D-B did.”