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Defensive let-up the culprit in Game 1 meltdown for Blakely, Devance

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Star Hotshots forwards Marqus Blakely and Joe Devance both singled out defense — or the lack of — as the main reason why the team was not able to secure a Game 1 win even after leading by as much as 17 early.

The Alaska Aces went on a stirring run in the third period to tie the game at 70-all before eventually coming out on top, 97-91 in the squads’ semi-final opener Wednesday.

“We just got stagnant in our offense. We did not execute to the highest level that we should have and that is because of our defense,” Blakely said. “When another team scores it becomes disheartening to go down and execute on offense. And as soon as they scored they pressured on defense. We had good a good start, but our turnovers and defense hurt us.”

The Aces outscored the Hotshots 34-19 in the third frame, generating baskets off turnovers. The former also dominated the paint, scoring 50 compared to the latter’s 32.

“It’s just they had a bigger run than we had. They had a better last 24 minutes than we had,” Blakely shared.

This defensive breakdown proved to be costly in the end for the Hotshots.

“I think we let up on defense. They were able to get easy buckets. They changed the game defensively by putting pressure. (Offensively) it is nothing we cannot adjust to, so we have to take Game 2 if we come prepared,” Devance added.

The Aces also out-rebounded the Hotshots, 53-41, including 22-12 on the offensive glass, which resulted into 23 second chance points for Alaska.

Devance hopes the Hotshots could figure it out in Game 2 on Friday.

“They’re the new never say die (team). Coach Tim (Cone) was telling us this lead is nothing. They came out wanting it more. We did not do the things we did in the first half,” Devance said.

“That’s everybody just trying to rebound. We need five men to gang rebound. Their guards are crashy too. We have to do a better team rebounding.”

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