MASON CITY | The NIACC men’s basketball team is not looking for moral victories, but going forward, Trojans coach Mark Mohl may want to repeatedly show his team the video of the final six minutes of the 83-76 loss to Ellsworth on Wednesday.
The Panthers could not miss on the offensive end as they built a 19-point lead and were poised to win in blowout fashion.
NIACC, though, responded with a furious rally that trimmed the margin to as little as six on two occasions, but the Trojan comeback ultimately ran out of time.
“We showed a lot of heart,” NIACC coach Mark Mohl said. “There were a lot of positive signs. We need to keep battling and try to get better.”
NIACC put together a solid defensive effort over the first 20 minutes, but shooting woes led to a five-point deficit.
The Trojans shot just 25.8 percent from the floor in the first half.
NIACC’s offensive fortunes were not much better in the second half until Orrington Hamilton, Jaycob Payne and Nick Wurm finally started connecting with regularity.
The Trojans shot a respectable 43.6 percent from the floor in the second half, but Ellsworth countered with 64 percent shooting in the second half to hold off NIACC.
Hamilton led the Trojans with 24 points, including four 3-point shots.
Payne finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Wurm added 18.
The Trojans also got some solid second half play from Izaya Sims, Raymond Harding and Cam McPherson as the trio combined for 11 points, five rebounds and two steals after intermission.
Tristan Forsythe, a 6-foot-9 freshman for Ellsworth, finished with 21 points while Darius Lsley had 20 to lead the Panthers.
NIACC (11-7, 0-3) looks to pick up its first conference win of the season on Saturday when it travels to DMACC.