After clawing their way back into the game in the second quarter, the Flagstaff Eagles fell apart out of the halftime gates and never regained their composure, losing 71-56 to the Mingus Union Marauders Friday at home as they resumed the regular-season schedule.
Erasing a nine-point deficit they faced early in the second quarter, the 15th-ranked Eagles used an 8-1 run to get within striking distance and Ramsey Penza put Flagstaff ahead for the first of three times, 28-26, with a trip to the foul line. Four ties occurred in the last 2:38 of the second quarter as the teams played tight heading into halftime, at which No. 20 Mingus held the slim 31-30 advantage.
Troy Yazzie led the Eagles in scoring in the 4A Conference, Grand Canyon Region game with 15 points and gave his team its last lead, 34-33, early in the third quarter on an assist from Penza in transition. Mingus then stepped on the gas, going on a 16-0 run for a 49-34 advantage and winning the third quarter 26-7.
"We didn't execute as well as we should have and let them dictate the style of play, and we were trying to bank off 3-pointers a little too much and not getting to the rim as much -- which brought us lots of success in the first half," said Eagles head coach Nick Walton.
Penza contributed 14 points for the Eagles, who moved to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the region standings with the loss. He went 4 for 6 at the foul line, but missed back-to-back free throws during the Marauders' 16-0 surge. Yazzie had one of Flagstaff's three makes from beyond the arc, a place that would hurt the Eagles in the long run.
Mingus, effective inside and outside on offense, hit from 3-point range five times and went 14 for 20 at the charity stripe. Both teams made their way to the line throughout the game, with Flagstaff finishing at 13 for 21.
Flagstaff's K.P. Kortsen had nine points, all coming in the first half. Nearly four minutes into the game, with his team trailing 8-3, Kortsen forced a turnover and turned it into a dunk. The senior was responsible for the game's first tie at 23-all in the second quarter, and had four straight points during the first-quarter 8-1 run thanks to making the best of extra opportunities.
Kortsen, however, fouled out as the Eagles began to fall asleep in the fourth quarter. Yazzie splashed in his long-range shot, but Mingus was already down the court for the inbounds as Flagstaff lagged on getting back, and Kortsen wound up going to the bench trying to break up the play.
"I think we are doing some great things, but we are not sustaining it for a complete game, and we need to be able to do that -- to be able to play the entire 32 minutes," Walton said.
Turnovers also kept the Eagles from gathering momentum in the second half, which saw them trail by as many as 21 points.
Mingus, winners of four of their last five with the victory, had four players score in double digits, led by Bryce Cramer's game-high 17 points. The Marauders led 57-37 heading into the final quarter on the way to improving to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the region standings, in which Coconino remains the only undefeated team at 3-0.
In fact, Coconino, which suffered its first regular-season loss to Notre Dame Prep on Friday on the road, hosts Flagstaff on Tuesday for the first of two regular-season crosstown rivalry games.
"We got to focus on what we did best, and we got a big one against Coconino on Tuesday," Walton said. "... We got to come in with intensity and work hard, play our style of basketball and not let them dictate the game.