By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
The last thing you want to do when you're on the road is give the home team hope.
Aurora did that twice on Tuesday and it came back to snakebite the Greenmen to the tune of a 64-54 non-league loss to the Woodridge Bulldogs.
Woodridge (8-9 overall) survived two long runs by Aurora, including a 13-4 start to the game, before its defensive pressure and solid rebounding came together for the win.
After a Ben Branscom bucket with 4:29 left in the first quarter put the Greenmen ahead 13-4, Woodridge responded with a 12-2 run to end the period and give the Bulldogs a 15-14 lead.
Anthony Mong (4 points in the quarter) and Nelson Perry (5) led the rally for the Bulldogs as Woodridge head coach Brian Fantone said his team began to adjust to Aurora's hot start.
"We came out thinking we could play in a zone against Aurora and that wasn't working," Fantone said. "So we decided to switch to man-to-man because that's what we do best, and we had a lot of success with it."
Fantone's switch was the right call as Woodridge forced four turnovers during its first-quarter run. By game's end, the Bulldogs collected 20 turnovers.
Headed into the third quarter trailing 27-26, Aurora (1-20) started the second half with another strong run.
The Greenmen scored the first eight points of the half as four different Aurora players got on the board, including a steal and transition layup by guard Drew Daff that pushed Aurora's lead to 34-27.
Mong scored a bucket to end Woodridge's drought and cut its deficit to 34-29, but Ben Branscom responded with a 3 to push Aurora's lead back out to eight points with 4:45 remaining in the period.
It was also about that time where Aurora's offense went cold.
Much like the first quarter, Woodridge ended the third with another long run -- this time a 9-1 spurt that tied the game at 38-38 as the period ended.
Woodridge's momentum carried into the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run that pushed its lead out to 48-38.
Bulldogs forward Chico Coleman scored eight points in the game's final quarter, including three second-chance buckets that came off from offensive rebounds from his own shot.
Aurora knocked down five points in the fourth quarter on foul shots, but it wasn't until the 1:53 mark of regulation before the Greenmen recorded a fourth-quarter field goal. The cold streak lasted nearly 10 minutes. By that point, Aurora found itself down by nine points as the game was rapidly slipping away.
Fantone said that he was pleased with the way his defense performed down the stretch.
"I'm really proud of our defense because they did a great job contesting shots and preventing Aurora from getting many offensive rebounds," Fantone said. "We had some steals, but we tell our kids that you're doing your job if we're forcing bad passes or bad shots, and they did a great job of that."
Greenmen head coach Jim Wallish said that his team did the home Bulldogs a favor with the way they ran their offense.
"We did a really poor job of shot selection tonight," Wallish said. "Woodridge hits a 3 in the third to cut our lead to five, and we come down and take a one-pass shot. We miss and they score, and we come back down and take another one-pass shot.
"You don't want to take early shots like that when you're leading on the road because all that's doing is energizing the other team," Wallish added.
Woodridge was led offensively by Perry (16 points) and Sean McCoy, who led all scorers with 17 points. Coleman finished with 11 points to go along with five rebounds, with four coming offensively.
Aurora was paced by Ben Branscom and Joey Dinardo, who each finished with 10 points.