Clarence Campbell is the Arabs' tallest player and the main focus of IVC's inside-outside offense. Campbell produced 11 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Arabs but was often kept at bay by Mira Costa's 1-3-1 zone, which kept IVC's guards from dumping the ball inside.
"That's been one of our problems all year," Gehler said of playing against a zone. "Clarence is our man and early on he could do what he wanted because we faced mainly man-to-man defense. Now we're playing better teams and they're going zone against us and we have a hard time with that. That really packed it in on him and we didn't make the plays outside."
Despite crisp ball movement, the Arabs (3-12 overall, 0-3 Pacific Coast Conference) couldn't get it done outside because of the Spartans' aggressive defense. IVC was forced to take well-covered shots, was hesitant on good opportunities and frustrated by not getting the ball inside.
Richard Cook hit a trey to open the IVC scoring, giving his squad its only tie of the contest at 3-3. It was all MiraCosta for the next 10 minutes. The Spartans (9-8, 2-1) coasted with a 29-13 burst that gave them a 32-16 lead with under seven minutes to go in the half. The Arabs fought back to within nine but Ben Collins, who scored a game-high 21 points, hit a three-pointer and Matt Adame added two free throws for a 39-25 Spartan lead at the break.
"When we can't get the ball inside we need to penetrate more and hit the gaps," said Campbell who had just three points and five boards in the first half. "We need to shoot more also and those shots will open the inside. We weren't afraid to shoot the ball. It was just a lack of experience. We have lots of freshman going against teams with a lot of sophomores. We just need more time together."
IVC came together early in the second half as it started to move the ball more quickly inside. Campbell followed a missed shot with a tip-in, put home a lay-up and hit a free throw and Ryan Holmes, who led the Arabs with 12 points, nailed a three-pointer less than two minutes into the second half. The only problem was MiraCosta matched IVC shot for shot.
The squads dueled for the next nine minutes and the score stood at 61-46 with 8:31 to go. The Spartans then went cold and IVC reeled off a 7-0 run to pull within 61-53 with 6:11 remaining. A pair of missed free throws by Herles Atchison, who finished with eight points and five rebounds, could have cut the lead to six. Ben Curtis followed the misses with a trey to start MiraCosta's final run.
"They're a solid team with big strong guys and they like to move the ball around," Gehler said. "We just have to push forward. We need to improve in our final games as much as possible."
Added Adelman, "That's the way we play. We like to move the ball around and make the other team play more defense than we have to. Nick has done a great job with IVC, though. We just have more weapons than he does. We couldn't put them away, however, and they came back from 20 down. I'm just happy to get a win on the road."
IVC will play at San Diego City College at 7 p.m. Saturday.