PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast used a strong defensive performance to cruise to a 73-57 win Friday over the William Carey JV in the season-opener at the Weathers-Wentzell Center.
The Bulldogs led by 31 points inside the last six minutes before a blizzard of Crusaders 3-pointers took a huge chunk out of the advantage.
"We're good with our defense right now," Gulf Coast coach Wendell Weathers said. "These kids are really buying into what we do. For this time of year, we're probably way ahead of ourselves defensively."
Tafari Simms (Fr., Hamilton, Ontario/Lincoln Prep) led the Bulldogs with 18 points, and LaRaymond Spivery (So., Lucedale /George County) added 13. Keevon Oney (So., Gulfport/Gulfport) and DaJuan Moorer (So., Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic) had 11 each.
Mykah Brown (Fr., Petal /Petal) had a 3-pointer to start a 10-0 run in the first half that pushed Gulf Coast's advantage to 30-13. Spivery's 3 ended that run, and MGCCC went into halftime up 42-25.
A 12-0 run in the second half made it 64-34, and Gulf Coast eventually led 70-39. That's when Jason Santiago got hot for the Crusaders. He made five of his 10 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch against the Gulf Coast bench.
"I'm happy with everything other than about three minutes there at the end," Weathers said." Those kids are better than that. Maybe because we were up so much they were just going through the motions. That kid can obviously shoot, but there's no excuse for what happened there."
The only other disappointment from the evening was a bad night at the free-throw line. Gulf Coast shot only 11-of-28 from the charity stripe.
"Our offense is built around us getting to the foul line," Weathers said. "It's one of the things we count on doing. We want to shoot 25-plus free throws a night, and we did that. Shooting 40 percent from foul line will get you beat. These guys are better than that. We have to convert 70-75 percent of our free throws."
Gulf Coast will play Monday in Mobile against Bishop State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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