It's difficult to win basketball games when shots aren't falling.
The Starkville Christian Cougars learned that lesson the hard way Friday night.
Starkville Christian's 33-25 lead at halftime could have been much more, then found out it wasn't enough as the Tupelo Christian Academy Crusaders rallied for a 59-52 win at the Cougar Cave.
The Cougars were outscored 34-19 in the second half.
"We had some trouble going into them and taking the ball to the basket and when we did, it didn't fall," said Starkville Christian boys coach Alex Thompson, who saw his squad miss 11 free throws. "It was one of those nights where they're not falling and it's hard to do anything about it."
Caleb Jordan's first of many baskets in the game helped the Cougars take a 7-2 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter, but Tupelo Christian closed the gap to 12-10 at the end of the frame.
In the second quarter, Starkville Christian established a 24-16 advantage at the 3:37 mark on another score by Jordan.
Isaac Jamerson hit a shot with 15 seconds left in the second quarter as the Cougars maintained their eight-point lead at halftime.
The visiting Crusaders stepped up their game in the third quarter by outscoring SCS 19-4. Jordan Wyat had a 3-point field goal to give Tupelo Christian its first lead at 39-37 with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter, then Austin Slagle stepped up and hit another from long range to extend the margin to 42-37.
Slagle and Wyat combined for 42 points with Slagle getting 22 and Wayt adding 20.
"They are a good basketball team and had two guys that hurt us," Thompson said. "They stepped out and hit some 3's that ended up swinging the game pretty big."
Despite going down by 12 points at 49-37 early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars did manage to cut the gap back to five points a couple of times. A basket by Benjamin Jamerson brought SCS within 49-44 with 4:08 left and a 3-pointer by Josh Coggins kept the Cougars close at the end at 59-52.
The Crusaders scored the final points to end any hopes of SCS completing its comeback.
"They fought the entire game and I couldn't be anything other than proud of them for the way they played," Thompson said. "The ball just didn't bounce our way.
"We had four key contributors that didn't get to play (Friday night). That hurts, but we can't make any excuses. We had a chance, but just didn't make it happen."
Jordan had a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Thompson was pleased with the way Jordan and the other seniors kept the Cougars in the game.
"The seniors really stepped up for us with (Jordan), Benjamin Jamerson and Chris Horstemeyer," Thompson said. "Their leadership really helped. It would have been a lot worse without them out there."
Jesse Little had 22 rebounds for SCS.
Tupelo Christian also won the junior varsity boys game 27-20. Coggin had eight points for the Cougars.
The SCS teams host Winston Academy Tuesday.