AKRON -- It seemed like the Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball team was at its best when it faced adversity.
The problem was the Bulldogs faced adversity a bit too much.
Stow fell to 7-3 on the season after suffering a 68-59 loss to Suburban League crossover rival Copley Jan. 17 on the road.
Fortunately, the Bulldogs were in first place in the Suburban League National Conference standings as of press time. Stow improved to 6-0 in the conference after earning a 51-39 win over reigning conference champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights Jan. 13 at James G. Tyree Gymnasium.
On Jan. 17, the Bulldogs trailed most of the evening and were bothered by the Indians' pressure for key stretches of the game.
Copley got its share of fast-break points and forced Stow to turn the ball over 13 times.
Two particular turnovers on back-to-back possessions decided the game.
Trailing 58-54, senior guard Austin Brenner got two steals that led to fast-break layups for the Indians in a matter of seconds.
Junior guard Anthony Dente was the beneficiary of Brenner's thievery as he got both baskets.
Just like that, Copley led 62-54 with 1 minute, 9 seconds left and took care of business from there to improve to 11-0.
"We made some bad decisions," Bulldogs head coach Dave Close said. "We need to get better as a team in terms of making offensive decisions. That has been our theme this season."
Copley, which last played Stow seven years ago (the Indians also won that game), led by as many as 11 (45-34) when Dente knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner off an assist from junior guard Brian Roberts Jr.
But Stow, which had its last lead at 8-7, went on a 15-4 run to tie the game at 49.
Senior guard Jared Wright buried the tying 3-pointer from the right side of the court.
However, the Bulldogs' momentum vanished in a blur. Copley exploded for eight unanswered points that was capped by a 3-pointer from the right side by Brenner.
"We talked at halftime about them [the Bulldogs] making runs," Indians head coach Mark Dente said. "The question was, 'How are we going to respond?' My son, Anthony, hit a big 3 [which gave Copley a 52-49 lead] right in front of us and we've asked Austin to guard every position on the floor. Austin hurt his ankle, but he fought through everything."
Anthony Dente, who came off the bench, and Brenner combined for eight 3-pointers and scored 17 points apiece.
Roberts made 5-of-6 foul shots in the final 58.9 seconds and was 8-of-9 for the game to finish with 13 points for the Indians. Copley finished 15-of-19 from the free throw line and drained 11 3-pointers.
Six-foot-8 junior forward Mason McMurray led Stow with a game-high 18 points and 14 rebounds and senior guard Logan Lindsay added 10 points.
Juniors Justin Harvey and senior guard/forward Nick Kollar each had 8 points. Kollar made all six of his foul shots. The Bulldogs finished 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Stow, which earned a 48-31 victory in the junior varsity contest, had a 31-25 edge on the glass. The Indians, despite playing at a high speed, lost the ball just nine times.
"Stow is obviously one of the best programs in Northeast Ohio," Indians head coach Mark Dente said. "Dave Close is one of the best coaches in Northeast Ohio. We've scouted them before and we learning some things from them. We knew they were going to try to control the tempo."
The Bulldogs had a much better night against the Bees (8-2, 5-1), who defeated Stow twice last season.
The Bulldogs saved their best for last, outscoring Brecksville 17-6 in the final eight minutes. McMurray led the way with 15 points and Lindsay and junior guard Coryon Rice added 13 and 9 points, respectively, for Stow.
But the win against the Bees seemed like ages ago for Close.
"It's disappointing," he said. "We had a chance to be in the game, but we didn't execute the game plan."
The Bulldogs were scheduled to host National Conference rival North Royalton Jan. 20 and Akron Buchtel Jan. 21. Results of those games were not available at press time.
Stow is set to visit National Conference foe Wadsworth Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m.