MARSHALLTOWN — Mike Rodriguez was a thorn in the side of the Clinton Community College Cougars on Wednesday night.
Rodriguez, a 5-foot-9 freshman from Boston, scored a career-high 27 points, made nine steals and keyed several runs as Marshalltown Community College defeated Clinton 73-49 in men’s basketball. Included was a go-ahead 3-point basket with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first half.
Onterior Brown led the Cougars with 18 points. Samuel Bil added 10, and BeeJay Caleb grabbed a team-best nine rebounds. The Cougars remained winless in 16 games.
Fifteen of Rodriguez’s points came in the second half, when the Tigers (12-9) outscored the Cougars 42-22 to pull away. His three-point play pushed the lead to double digits, 42-31, with 15:01 remaining in the game. It was part of an 11-2 run.
The Cougars made a mini-run, getting three free throws from Brown and a 3-pointer from Dione Blyden to climb back within 45-37 with 12:53 left in regulation. But, Rodriguez scored the final six points in a 7-0 run that pushed the lead to 15 with 11:01 left.
After back-to-back baskets by Bil and Brown, Marshalltown slowly pulled away.
Jamal Gatali added 16 points for the Tigers, while Carter Troidell finished with 10.
The Cougars stayed close in the first half and trailed just 31-27 at halftime. They enjoyed a couple of early leads, the last at 9-8 on a layup by Caleb with 14:50 left.
Rodriguez scored the final five points of a 9-0 run that gave the Tigers a 22-12 lead after a 3-pointer by Bil pulled CCC within 13-12 with 12:06 remaining.
But, Marshalltown couldn’t shake free. Brown buried a 3-pointer to start a Clinton comeback, then finished a 6-0 run with another basket. Moments later, a 3-pointer by Kimani Stevens pulled CCC within 24-21 with 4:17 left in the half. Bil tied the game with another trey on Clinton’s next possession.
After Rodriguez’s 3 broke the 24-24 tie, Clinton got within one on a basket by Bil, but the Cougars never got closer.