By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Oxford coach Drew Tyler has seen his team struggle offensively this season, so Friday night’s 4-minute, 56-second shooting lapse wasn’t cause for alarm.
Tyler’s Chargers, did however, sink 8 of 10 free throws in the final 2:27 to edge Saltillo 62-57 in a Division 2-5A game.
Nick Brown, who was 4 for 4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, iced the win on two freebies with under 10 seconds remaining.
“That has been one of our traits this season,” Tyler said of his team’s offensive woes.
Shelby McEwen’s putback at 4:56 was Oxford’s final field goal of the game. By that time Tyler’s strategy was: work the clock, draw fouls and go to the free throw line.
“We wanted to get into the bonus and be on that free throw line,” Tyler said. “We wanted to be aggressive. We wanted to cut down on their opportunities with the ball.”
Oxford (8-9, 1-1) was led in scoring by sophomore Cortez Jones, who scored all 18 of his points in the first half. He scored 15 of those on five 3-pointers. Brown added 10.
Saltillo (13-7, 1-2) was led by A.J. Hunt with 23 points and Brody Whitehead with 14.
The Tigers’ final field goal came with 2:08 left on a putback by Jereard Sadler. The basket gave them a 57-56 lead. They missed two free throw attempts and had two crucial turnovers on passes down the stretch.
Saltillo led 32-31 at halftime.
(G) Oxford 65, Saltillo 40: The Lady Chargers (15-4, 1-1) won despite playing for the second straight game without the services of star forward Alexus Malone.
The 5-foot-11 Buffalo signee, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, is expected to return next week.
“Without Alexus, we need people to step up,” Oxford coach Shayne Linzy said. “I thought we’d be a little more polished at this point. We were headed in the right direction when Alexus went down.”
Janesha Johnson paced Oxford with 16 points while Brhea Mitchell had 16 for Saltillo (7-13, 0-3).