By Tom Schultz
For the Herald
ORION, Ill. —
Focus and execution led to a more decisive win for the Steamers in the second game of the Orion Tip-Off Classic Tuesday night. Fulton improved to 2-0 behind a 51-39 win over Princeton, starting the season off strong after beating the Orion Chargers the previous night.
Fulton made the adjustment after that first win and came out against the Tigers with a more controlled plan of attack. Fewer turnovers were made than on Monday and the Steamers showed more confidence on the floor from the first tip off. They took control in the first quarter getting out to a 12-7 lead thanks to the hot shot of Zach Barber from behind the arch.
“I was hitting shots tonight,” Barber said. “Paul Velasco was doing a really good job setting screens. Got me a lot of open looks.”
Fulton coach RJ Coffey said: “I thought the pick and rolls were there several times. Barber did another nice job shooting the basketball and he got open looks and knocked them down, and that’s what he’s got to do.”
Executing screens was a big piece of the puzzle for the Steamers on their way to victory. Several times Seth Sanderson and Jake Wilging connected on give-and-go’s that exploited the holes in Princeton’s defense.
“From the start we had much better point guard play,” Coffey said. “I thought Seth Sanderson did a phenomenal job tonight not only pushing the pace; he had several good looks up the floor to Jake. Jake did a nice job running the floor.”
Fulton built up a 29-17 lead at half using the pick and roll on the offensive end and stifling man-to-man coverage on the defensive end. The offense in the first half was anchored by Barber — who hit 4-of-5 three-pointers thanks to the screens — and 8 points from Wilging on the back end of the successful pick and rolls.
With the double-digit lead, Fulton fell back on its defense. The coverage on the Tigers shutdown almost everyone. The defense was able to crowd the paint enough to cut off options more often than not. The Tigers were more than happy take any three point shots they could get but only made two.
All game long the Steamers pressured the Tigers up and down the floor. With a full, 18-man roster, Coffey has several options to fresh legs onto the court. Jason Osbourn saw extended stretches of court time for the Steamers because of his defense, causing several turnovers and mistakes for Princeton. Osbourn also helped keep the up intensity for the Steamers.
“Whenever I get out there on the court I just do what I have to do,” he said. “I lock up whoever coach wants me to lock up and just play my heart out.”
Fulton’s defense took the pressure off the offense as Barber cooled off in the second half. Matt Dail nailed two three-pointers (one fewer than the previous night) but did so with style each time. His first kick started a run in the second quarter and the other stole back momentum in the second half keeping Fulton securely in the lead.
The Steamers will look to continue their win streak after the Thanksgiving holiday when they match up with conference rival Erie in the next game of the Orion Tip-Off Classic.
FULTON 51, PRINCETON 39
FULTON (2-0) – Matt Dail 2 0-0 6, Jake Wilging 5 1-2 11, Devin Kuehl 2 0-0 4, Zach Barber 6 0-0 17, Seth Sanderson 0 2-2 2, Jason Osbourn 0 2-4 2, Kyle Huebner 3 1-2 7, Paul Velasco 2 0-0 4
PRINCETON (0-1) – Duffin 5 5-7 15, Vaccaro 2 0-0 6, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Hicks 3 1-2 7, Duffy 1 0-0 2, Friel 1 0-0 2, Schmidt 0 1-2 1, Clark 2 0-0 4
FULTON 12 17 10 12 – 51
PRINCETON 7 10 11 11 – 39
3PT – FULTON 7 (Dail 2, Barber 5), PRINCETON 2 (Vaccaro)
Total Fouls – Fulton 15, Princeton 16