New London — Whenever Coast Guard and Mitchell College meet in any sport, the result is usually fairly predictable.
Coast Guard has been the superior athletic program throughout the years.
Mitchell finally ended a long drought on Tuesday in a non-conference men's basketball game at the Yarnall Athletic Center.
The Mariners scored what is believed to be the school's first win against their crosstown foe in any sport, pulling away in the second half for an 88-71 victory.
"I think this might be the first time anybody has beaten them in anything, to be honest with you...," said Mitchell coach Todd Peretz, who's in his 14th season. "It feels great. Obviously, I knew they weren't at full strength.
"If there was a time for us to get them, this is the year."
Coast Guard (1-2) played without its starting backcourt of Kevin Sowers and Devonte Weems, who are both sidelined indefinitely with injuries.
The Mariners (3-0) took full advantage of their short-handed opponent. They increased defensive pressure, forcing 18 turnovers.
"Our game plan was to put lot of pressure on their guards and try to keep the ball out of the post," junior Josh Ford said.
They also made their free throws, sinking 19 of 23 after intermission and 81.5 percent overall. They outscored the Bears 22-9 from the foul line.
Coast Guard coach Kevin Jaskiewicz refused to use injuries as an excuse. The Bears simply need to play better, he said.
"Any time you play Mitchell, you know they're going to be well-coached and they're going to play hard," Jaskiewicz said. "Todd does a great job. ... We didn't lose for lack of trying, to be honest with you.
"We played hard and did some good things. In the end, you can't turn the ball over 18 times and beat anybody."
The Mariners tapped into a variety of players to supply offense.
Ford (a game-high 24 points, nine rebounds) provided his usual productive inside presence. A talented 6-foot-4 forward, he came into the game averaging 31 points and 12.5 rebounds.
"I'm just like an offensive generator," Ford said. "I just try to set things up and help my team."
Point guard Alex Del Rio (16 points, 10 assists) played the role of conductor. Versatile reserve Anthony Epps (22 points) attacked off the dribble.
Mitchell finally gained the upper hand in the tight game by going on a 9-0 run midway through the second half.
Del Rio buried a 16-foot jumper to hand Mitchell the lead for good, 57-55, with 10:45 remaining. Epps converted two free throws and Del Rio set up Ford for a layup. Alberto Durogene's free throw capped the run, increasing the lead to 62-55 with 9:22 left.
The Bears hit a major rut, watching the deficit grow to double digits. They committed turnovers on three straight possessions and stopped consistently going to leading scorer David Anderson in the low post. Anderson showed off some nifty inside moves on his way to 22 points but had only eight in the second half. Foul trouble also hampered the Bears. Senior Greg Marshall fouled out after scoring 22 points.
Both teams will continue to prepare for conference play.
"Hopefully, this is something that we can build on," Peretz said. "We're going to have to play a lot better. We're going to have to get some contributions from a couple of other kids."
First and foremost, the Bears need to get healthy to make any major step forward.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Jaskiewicz said. "We can't use our injuries as an excuse to go out and play poorly. We have enough talent that we can beat anybody if we're executing and playing the way we want to play."