Devils Dig Down on Defense to Beat Mounties

By Ryan
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass — If the Drury boys' basketball team was going to get its season back on track, it would need a big win over a quality opponent on the road. To do that, the Blue Devils needed a consistent performance from a player who's had too many inconsistent games so far this year. 

Thank goodness for Drury, Robert Jutras showed up just in the nick of time. 

The senior swingman and three-year player for the Blue Devils put in his best game of the season on Tuesday night, scoring a season-high 15 points to lead his team to a big 45-39 road win over Mount Greylock. Jutras not only led Drury on offense, but his defense on Tyrell Thomas was a major reason in the Blue Devils holding the Mounties to a season-low 39 points. Jutras allowed the Greylock sophomore to score just two points, 16 points below his season average. 

It was the kind of game Drury head coach Jack Racette needed and was hoping for from Jutras. An athletic player with silky-smooth mid-range game, Jutras had yet to find his rhythm so far in the 2011-12 season. He broke out in a big way on Tuesday, however, helping the Devils break out of a stretch that saw them lose three out of four games and improve their overall record to 5-5 with eight games left to go. 

"To be honest with you, I've been struggling lately," Jutras admitted after the game. "Tonight was really a breakout game for me, and hopefully I can keep it going into the next game because I do need to score for this team. I got some mid-range shots to go tonight, and that helps me get going a little bit."

Jutras hit two quick shots right out of the gate, knocking down a pair of elbow jumpers set up by Drury point guard Jake Tietgens. Maybe that gave him the confidence that he needed to perform on the defensive end as well because Jutras never seemed to leave Thomas' side all night. In fact, Thomas didn't score until deep into the fourth quarter when he finished off a drive to the hoop during a furious late-game rally by Mounties. 

"He's a quick kid, but I just tried to buckle down and play hard," Jutras said. "You have to be physical with those types of guys." 

Although Greylock (7-2) made a big run in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils 15-5 to end the game, Drury did a stellar job on the defensive end through the first three quarters of play. The visitors held the Mounties to just 22 points in that span, thanks mainly to the job Jutras did on Thomas and the effort Tietgens' put in against Greylock point guard Hank Barrett. The Mounties' junior just put up 23 points in a big win over Lenox last week, but was held to just four points through the first three quarters of play on Tuesday. He finished with eight points overall with just one trip to the foul line all night. 

"I think so," Racette said when asked if this was one of his team's best defensive showings of the year. "The first time we played I didn't really know what they were going to do or what they were about. This time, we came in with a pretty good game plan. We knew we had to defend the 3-point line, but we knew that when Thomas was going to the basket that we had to have contact with him. Whether we took charges or not, he knew he was going to get hit going down the lane somewhere." 

"And I thought Jake had a great defensive game on Barrett, just being solid and not taking chances." 

Tietgens also gave the offense a boost, scoring eight points to go along with three assists. All three of his baskets were timely ones, usually starting or finishing off big runs for the Blue Devils. He first drained a three from the left corner to start a 15-1 run for the visitors late in the first quarter. With his team executing well in the half court against Greylock's zone defense, Racette's squad worked the shot clock down before getting good looks at the basket. Senior Joel Giorgi hit a pair of long jumper's during Drury's big run in the first half before Nolan Bird (8 points, nine rebounds) swished a fadeaway and Tietgens drained a jumper off of a screen to give the Devils a 21-6 lead early in the second quarter. 

"We had a team meeting the other day where we said we can't get up and down the floor because we're not athletic enough," Racette said. "We found that out in the Pittsfield game. Yeah, we had 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s, and we didn't finish any of them. The next thing you know they're scoring off of them. I thought we did a better job of being poised and passing the basketball tonight. We made some shots early, and that's catchy. We haven't made shots up to that point, so hopefully we turn the corner and start making some shots." 

After scoring just five points in the first quarter, the Mounties got a big lift from junior center Tyler Picard in the second quarter. He went on a 6-0 run all on his own to pull Greylock back in the game before halftime. Picard became too much for Drury too handle down low but, luckily for the visitors, he was a little off his game on his foul shooting. Picard got to the line six times in the second quarter but only made one of the six free throws to limit the damage of his nine first-half points. His efforts, however, helped his team shave a 15-point deficit into a 23-16 Devils' lead at half. 

Overall, Picard scored a game-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and three steals. 

"I give credit to Drury," Mounties head coach Bob Thistle said. "They came in here and played a good, hard game. Defensively, they worked hard, but we had looks. We were 15 of 54 from the floor and were also 6 of 14 from the [foul] line. I give credit to Drury for their defense, but we couldn't throw the ball in the ocean. A big part of our game is our press. The bottom line is we can't use our press when we don't score."

The Blue Devils reasserted themselves in the third quarter, using a 12-2 run early in the frame to open up a 16-point lead. Tietgens added another triple from the left corner during the run before Jutras capped it off with a three of his own from the left wing. Another long jumper by Bird gave Drury a 37-22 lead after three quarters. Jutras then started the fourth quarter with a put back off of an offensive rebound, giving the Blue Devils their largest lead of the game at 17 points. Greylock didn't go down easily, however, using a pair of 3-pointers by Barrett and Avery Cunningham to get Drury's lead under 10 points. The visitors didn't help their cause by going 3 for 8 from the free-throw line, and the Mounties eventually made it a three-point game with under two minutes left on the clock before they ran out of gas. Senior forward Slayter Aubin (six points, eight boards) made 3 of 6 foul shots in the final minutes to put the game away for the Blue Devils

Despite the defeat, Thistle said he likes where he's team is at near the midway point of the season. 

"We're 7-2 and we're pleased with our start," he said. "We know we'll come back, but unfortunately every year you're going to get a clunker in terms of your shooting performance. When you're down that much in the fourth quarter, you start looking at other things like how are we going to end this game. Are we going to show a little heart, a little desire? It's disappointing to come up a little short, but I'm pleased with how we played [at the end]." 

For the Blue Devils, a big win over one of the top teams in Berkshire County might just be what they need to make a serious run in the second half of the season. For them to do that, Jutras, thinks his team just needs to tighten things up on the offensive end. 

"Depending on the night, [I think we have the talent to play with anybody]," he said. "I think our defense is there, but we just need to find scoring. We have to be more consistent with our scoring. I think that's our key. We were making shots tonight, and it got our rhythm going." 

Drury next hosts Wahconah at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, while Greylock plays at Monument Mountain at 7 on the same night. 
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