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Raiders fall to Iron Division foe Naugatuck, 49-46.

POSTED January 23, 2018
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: For the first time this year, the Torrington boys' basketball team has dropped back to back games after falling 49-46 to the Naugatuck Greyhounds on Tuesday night.

The first loss, that to Sacred Heart, didn't hurt much. Heck the Hearts haven't lost to an NVL team in forever, so you can put that one aside.

Tuesday night though, was one that hurt. One that the Raiders needed to keep their lead in the Iron Division of the NVL where they entered play tied with the Greyhounds at 3-0.

A combination of an off-shooting night and a turnover plagued evening led to a disappointing defeat to a team that one could say they should have beaten.

Sure, the Greyhounds have one of the top scorers in the NVL in junior Jean Lukau who scored a game high 26 points (19 of his teams 27 in the first half) and a scrappy team that crashed the boards relentlessly, but this was one of those games that will go down as one the Raiders would like back.

The Raiders simply couldn't find a hot hand all night, although Joel Villanueva tried in the first half with 10 of his team high 13 points but a team that came in averaging over 10 three-pointers per game connected on just four on a rare of shooting night.

It wasn't that the home team wasn't getting good looks, it's that they just were not falling, and their head coach had an idea on why.

"We haven't played in many big games," Eric Gamari said, "We were squeezing the ball a little too tight and it showed."

This is a Raider team that has lived and will live and die with the up-tempo running style that has been so successful for them to date, but the Greyhounds slowed the game down, got back on defense and forced Torrington into running a half court offense, something that is not in their wheelhouse this year.

Lukau is a special player and he came out showing it by scoring eight of his teams 11 first quarter points to keep his team within striking distance at 17-11 after one.

Five fast second quarter points by the talented junior brought the visitors to with one at 17-16 and despite that Raiders best efforts, they couldn't push the lead out much from there.

Back to back dunks by Lukau (who would later have a run in with the rim) energized the Greyhounds (now 8-3, 4-0 in the Iron) who trailed by just one at 29-27 at the break.

If their game plan was to keep the high scoring Raiders down on the scoreboard by limiting their possessions, they had accomplished their objective.

Each Naugy possession was deliberate, using as much clock as they could and down the stretch, that would play a major role in the game's outcome.

The visitors would hold the home team to just 17 points in the second half and worked through injuries to Lukau who suffered a cut above his eye on a fourth quarter dunk that put his team up 45-41 with 5:16 left.

Starting point guard, Elison Robinson took a hard spill in the second half and had to be helped off the court by his teammates but came back in time to be on the floor when Lukau had to be attended to at a critical time in the fourth quarter.

Torrington took their last lead at 46-45 on a basket by Hunter Murphy with 2:08 left but Greyhound senior Latrel Deveaux made too huge baskets down the stretch to give his team the final margin of victory.

The Raiders had chances to tie the game over the final minute but their three-point game, which has been so consistent, was not there for them in this one.

There's not much time to dwell though if you are the Raiders.

A big match up against Wilby awaits them on Friday as they look to break this mini losing streak.

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