The Alpena Community College men's basketball team ran out of gas at the wrong time on Saturday.
A seven-minute stretch without a field goal doomed the Lumberjacks' chances late in the second half and left them on the losing end of an MCCAA Eastern Conference game with Henry Ford, 83-73.
ACC (3-10, 1-4 MCCAA Eastern) overcame a slow start and went toe-to-toe with the Hawks early in the second half. The Lumberjacks took two brief leads before the two sides played to a 54-54 tie with 11:21 left.
Then the troubles began for ACC.
Over the next seven minutes, the Lumberjacks were outscored 17-4 and went without a field goal, allowing the Hawks to take a 71-58 lead. ACC had trouble getting things going on offense and missed several shots close to the basket. By the time Stephen Shepherd scored with 4:21 left, ACC trailed 71-60.
"We got tired. When you get tired and don't do the things you're supposed to do (you won't win)," ACC coach Frank McCourt said. "They're a pretty good team and they made more shots than we did."
The Lumberjacks also had to contend with a strong defensive effort from Henry Ford, which pressed the Lumberjacks the entire game and didn't allow many open looks. On the offensive end, a big, athletic Hawks roster took it to ACC from all angles and never seemed to let up.
Marcus Williams led Henry Ford with 22 points and played bigger than his 6-6 frame, knocking down outside shots and contending inside. Dorian Prather added 19 points and Marcellus Wilford added 15.
The Hawks helped their cause at the free-throw line too, going 16-for-24 compared to ACC's 9-of-13.
Scott Hicks III led ACC with 17 points, Kharri Dailey had 16, Travon Howard had 15 and Shepherd added 10, but the Lumberjacks still had trouble knocking down shots at crucial times.
"We didn't shoot well. You don't shoot better than the other team you're going to lose," McCourt said.
ACC cut the Hawks' lead to nine a few times in the closing minutes, including with 1:32 to play, but the earlier dry spell proved to be too much.
A slow start to open the game might have served as a warning for the Lumberjacks. With Prather and Williams in control of Henry Ford's offense, the Hawks jumped out to a 16-4 lead before the game was six minutes old.
Dailey, who recently returned to ACC's lineup, helped the Lumberjacks inch back into the game. Trailing 16-6, Dailey scored on a floater with 11:34 left and on the ensuing possession, he stole the ball, drove the baseline and scored on a reverse lay-up seven seconds later to pull ACC to within six, 16-10.
"He's exciting. He's so quick and he does lots of different things. He's obviously our best player right now," McCourt said of Dailey.
Henry Ford kept the lead the rest of the half and led 30-28 at halftime after a pair of buckets from Howard helped ACC close the gap.
The Lumberjacks kept pace with the Hawks early in the second half and Dailey tied the game 39-39 with 16:50 left. ACC finally took its first lead of the game with 13:20 left after a pair of baskets from Howard, whose trey put ACC ahead 47-46.
A three-pointer from Jarod Jones gave ACC its last lead of the game 50-48 with 12:37 to play.
ACC will play at Macomb today and return home Wednesday to host Wayne.
HENRY FORD (83): M. Williams 8 4-7 22; M. Wilford 5 3-3 15; D. Prather 7 5-8 19; R. Boyd 5 0-0 10; A. Kanaan 2 0-0 6; D. Aaron 2 3-4 8; L. Harris 1 1-2 3.
ALPENA (70): S. Hicks 5 7-9 17; S. Shepherd 5 0-0 10; K. Dailey 8 0-0 16; C. Lamp 1 0-0 2; E. Thompson 1 0-0 2; T. Howard 7 0-2 15; J. Jones 2 2-2 8.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.