Sophomore Zach Lester of Clear Lake led four players in double figures with 15 points as the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) men's basketball team opened Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) play with a 74-69 win over Ellsworth Community College (ECC) December 4 inside the DMACC gymnasium.
The Bears, ranked 12th in the most recent Division II poll from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half before securing the win to improve to 9-2 overall and 1-0 in the ICCAC. Freshman Willie Guy of Cedar Rapids joined Lester in double figures with 13 points and freshman Mark Bradshaw of Chester, Penn., and sophomore Jal Bijiek of Des Moines came away with 12 and 11 points respectively.
DMACC trailed 27-14 and 30-17 in the opening half before closing to within 41-39 at halftime on a layup from Lester with 25 seconds to play. The second half was close all the way with neither team leading by more than five points. DMACC took the lead for good at 67-66 on a free throw by freshman Ryan Schmitt of Van Meter with 3 minutes, 15 seconds to play. Schmitt made another free throw with 2:16 left to give the Bears a 68-66 lead and freshman John Herrick of Boone made a layup with 1:28 to play, giving DMACC a 70-66 advantage. Lester and Guy iced the game for the Bears with one free throw apiece in the last 12 seconds.
The Bears shot 47 percent, hitting 24 of 51 field goal attempts. They were 10-of-23 from three-point range and 16-of-29 from the free throw line.
ECC had a 41-36 advantage on the boards with Bijiek and freshman Mike Hartford of McKinney, Texas, grabbing six rebounds apiece to lead DMACC. Bradshaw led DMACC in assists with five and Hartford and Lester had three and two steals respectively. Sophomore Demarion Bariffe-Smith of Skokie, Ill., blocked three shots.
The DMACC men's basketball team will face Little Priest Tribal (LPT) Dec. 7 at Winnebago, Neb. LPT is 4-6 overall and 0-0 in the league.