Posted Online: Dec. 08, 2012, 10:32 pm

Rocks win streak snapped

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

Thom Sigel immediately voiced his displeasure.

"We played dumb in a lot of stretches," Sigel, the Rock Island boys' basketball coach said after the Rocks' 68-65 loss to Bloomington on Saturday at the Rock Island Fieldhouse. "I'll give Bloomington credit for making plays and working hard, but I felt we beat ourselves."

The closing stretch tells the whole story, a four-minute span that infuriated Sigel.

Leading 61-56 after a C.J. Carr bucket, Sigel said the Rocks (7-1) started doing "grade school basketball stuff you're not supposed to do." Unforced turnovers, missed foul shots and the inability to finish on the offensive end led to Rocky's first first loss this season.

After that basket, Rocky went 2 of 4 from the foul line, converted one of its three shot attempts and committed five turnovers. The Rocks missed two 3-point attempts on their last possession that could have tied the game.

"When we had them on the ropes, we don't make free throws," said Sigel, who received 16 points from Bryce Jones and 13 from Carr. "We didn't make any plays."

Meanwhile, the Purple Raiders (5-2) seized their opportunity when Rocky fumbled its away. In the final four minutes, Bloomington went 12 of 13 from the foul line and committed two turnovers.

All that gave the Purple Raiders the comeback win. Even more interesting is they did not take their first second-half lead until 1:21 remained in the fourth quarter.

"I don't consider it an upset," said Bloomington coach Micheal Mosley, who was ejected after receiving two third-quarter technical fouls. "My team plays hard. We prepare them for that. I credit my coaching staff and my players because they just continue to fight. ... We won because I felt we were the better team."

In the fourth quarter, that was evident.

Trailing 54-47, the Purple Raiders answered each time Rocky attempted to extend the lead. Then they seized control when the Rocks started turning the ball over.

Rocky had eight fourth-quarter turnovers and three field goals.

"We looked like we played tentative with the lead," Sigel said. "Instead of being smart, we're flying around and turning the ball over."

One sequence, though, was especially frustrating. Leading 65-63, Brian Richardson fouled Bloomington guard Antonio Sims on a 3-point attempt from the right wing. Sims, who went 0 for 10 from the field on the night, converted all three fouls shots to put the Purple Raiders ahead 66-65 with 1:21 left.

"There were a lot of big moments, but that one was pretty huge," Sigel said. "We've got to know the little things and what we've got to do."

For the first time this year, the Rocks did not make a 3-pointer, missing all nine attempts. Eleven times in the second half, Rocky had two-shot foul chances, but split or missed both attempts eight times.

On the other end, Bloomington converted 17 of its 21 foul shots.

"Some nights, you're not going to play your best," Sigel said. "But if you're consistent and make winning plays, you find a way to win. We made a lot of losing plays."