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Big South Notebook

December 5, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big South Conference Notebook

by Jeremy Dunlap

Bad Offense or Good Defense?

Why should the score 38-34 look familiar to anybody? Well, it was the final score of the exciting game played between Florida and Florida State’s football teams Nov. 29. But it was probably also the halftime score of a few college basketball games in the last week. Heck, that was even a score you would see occasionally at the end of the first quarter of a Lakers game. But there is no way that 38-34 was the final score of a Division I men’s basketball game, was it?

Believe it or not, 38-34 was the final score of Charleston Southern’s match up Sunday in the consolation game of the Mohegan Sun Classic held at Central Connecticut State. Charleston Southern was on the losing end of that score against Binghamton in the lowest scoring game played at the Division I level so far this season. Whether you want to attribute the score to terrific defense or terrible offense, the fact remains that neither team was able to outscore the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The stats were not pretty. The Buccaneers led the game at halftime 16-14 as both teams shot under 30 percent in the first half. For the game, the teams combined to only make 26 out of 87 field goal attempts (29.9%), and only one player from each team scored in double figures.

At least it was a close game.

Down to the Wire

Until Tuesday, not a single game played by a Big South member had been decided by less than four points. However, two games on Tuesday were decided in the final seconds, both resulting in wins for Big South schools.

At Western Carolina, High Point let a big lead slip away in the second half against the Catamounts. With the scored tied at 64-64 and time running out, junior guard Zione White missed a shot but teammate junior forward Danny Gathings was able to collect the rebound and throw in an off-balance bank shot with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Panthers the 66-64 win.

At about the same time in Rock Hill, S.C., Winthrop held onto a 67-66 lead as Eastern Kentucky inbounded the ball from under their basket with twelve seconds remaining. Eastern Kentucky’s Matt Witt, who was the game’s leading scorer, was forced to take an awkward shot with five seconds remaining that was rebounded by teammate Michael Haney. However, unlike Gathings’ putback, Haney’s desperation attempt for the win did not fall into the basket, allowing Winthrop to escape with the victory.

Player of the Week

High Point’s Danny Gathings not only had the buzzer-beater to beat Western Carolina but also had two double-doubles this week. In two games, the junior forward averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds, reminding everybody that he led the league in scoring and rebounding last season.

Team Reports

Birmingham-Southern Panthers (3-2) Last Week: 1-1

After an easy 94-65 victory over LaGrange to start the week, the Panthers took the court Tuesday night against Alabama-Birmingham, their cross-town neighbors that they have played only once before. Last season, UAB came away with an 18-point win, and the Blazers kept bragging rights by winning again this year, 90-67.

But the story of the game was the scoring outburst by Birmingham-Southern senior forward Grant Davis, who scored 30 points in the defeat. Davis made 10-of-16 shots, including 5-of-9 from behind the arc, and added 12 rebounds. This followed a 19 point effort in the win over LaGrange, capping a great week for the senior.

The Panthers take the court only once this next week, hoping to get back in the win column when they host Robert Morris Dec. 6.

Charleston Southern Buccaneers (1-3) Last Week: 0-2

The Bucs traveled to New Britain, Conn., last weekend to compete in the Mohegan Sun Classic with hopes of picking up a win or two against Division I competition. However, they came home with two tough losses and troubles on the offensive end of the court. Along with the 38-34 loss in the consolation game, Charleston Southern lost to host Central Connecticut State during the first day’s action, 66-55. Junior forward Trent Drafts was the only bright spot for the Bucs, as he led the team in scoring with 12 points in the loss to Central Connecticut State and 13 in the loss to Binghamton.

Charleston Southern returns to the court after exams to face Voorhees at home Dec. 10 in their last non-conference home game of the season.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (1-3) Last Week: 0-1

Last season, East Carolina came to Conway, S.C., to play Coastal and drove back home with a 90-71 loss. This season, Coastal had to go on the road to face ECU and the game did not go nearly as well for the Chants as it did last year. Coastal played well early and led at halftime 31-30, but ECU dominated the second half on their way to a 76-59 win over the Chanticleers. Senior guard E.J. Gallup was the high scorer for Coastal, scoring 21 points and hitting 5-of-9 three-pointers. Senior guard Brandon Newby was the only other Chanticleer in double-figures with 14 points.

Coastal finally gets to play a game in front of the home crowd Dec. 6. Southern Conference power College of Charleston makes their way to Conway to battle the Chants in their first home contest of the season.

High Point Panthers (2-3) Last Week: 1-1

In the midst of a five-game road trip, High Point split a pair of games, losing to Virginia, 79-64, and holding on to beat Western Carolina, 66-64, on Gathings’ buzzer-beater. In the loss to Virginia, the Panthers kept the game close most of the way, getting within six points a few times early in the second half before the Cavaliers took over. Gathings led the way with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) while junior guard Zione White scored 16 points and junior center Jerry Echinique added 15 of his own. Echinique also played well in the win against Western Carolina, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds to compliment Gathings’ 23 points and 10 rebounds.

The road trip concludes Dec. 6 when the Panthers travel to Emmitsville, Md., to face Mount St. Mary’s. After returning home, High Point will battle Ferrum on Dec. 9.

Liberty Flames (1-4) Last Week: 1-2

Liberty traveled a long way from Lynchburg, Va., last week, flying out to Alaska to compete in the prestigious Great Alaska Shootout. The tournament started well for the Flames, as they easily won their first game over Canisius, 65-48. That win led to a match-up against Duke on ESPN2, and for most of the first half, it looked as if Liberty could possibly pull off the upset against the Dukies, as they only trailed Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad by seven. But the second half was a whole different story, and Duke cruised to a 76-47 win over the Flames.

In their last game of the Shootout, Liberty faced Seton Hall in the third place game, but the Flames never had a chance, falling behind quickly, with just 12 percent shooting in the first half, and losing 65-47. Senior center Jason Sarchet was the only Liberty player named to the All-Tournament team. He had a very solid tournament, shooting 57 percent from the field and averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds over the three games.

Liberty gets to come back from Alaska to play a couple of home games this week. The Flames will take on Virginia Intermont Dec. 5 before battling Arkansas State Dec. 8.

Radford Highlanders (3-2) Last Week: 0-2

Radford came into the week with high hopes and a lot of momentum after a 3-0 start and a few home games on the schedule. However, after a great first half against Akron Nov. 29, the week quickly went downhill as the Highlanders fell to Akron 73-63, then lost to a hot-shooting American squad, 83-69.

In the loss to Akron, the Highlanders went into the half with a 30-23 lead following a buzzer-beating three-pointer by sophomore guard Whit Holcomb-Faye. The Highlanders held a nine point lead with about 13 minutes remaining when the momentum shifted and Akron went on a 22-2 run to take over control of the game.

The week’s difficulties continued Dec. 2 when American showed up in the Dedmon Center. The Eagles scorched the nets, hitting 9-of-13 three pointers in the first half on their way to a 51-27 halftime lead and a 14-point win. Holcomb-Faye was the bright spot in both games for Radford, scoring 17points in the loss to Akron and 27 in the loss to American.

Radford continues its busy week by hosting Marshall Dec. 4. The Highlanders will then hit the road for six straight games, starting Dec. 6 against Howard in the nation’s capital.

UNC Asheville Bulldogs (1-4) Last Week: 0-2

The non-conference portion of the Bulldogs’ schedule always seems to give them fits, and this year is no exception as they have yet to defeat a Division I program. Following earlier losses to North Carolina State and Iowa, the Bulldogs fell to Charlotte and East Tennessee State this week. With a 92-65 loss to Charlotte Nov. 30 and a 78-56 loss to ETSU Dec. 3, the Bulldogs have lost by an average of 25 points in their four defeats this season. About the only good news during the week was that freshman center C.J. Walker tied the school record with 8 blocked shots in the game against ETSU.

The schedule gets a bit easier as UNC-Asheville will battle nearby Western Carolina on Saturday, looking to beat the Catamounts for the fourth straight season.

VMI Keydets (1-3) Last Week: 1-0

VMI had over a week to rest and regroup after their 0-3 start in Alaska before taking the court again. Luckily for them, their first game outside of Alaska was a home contest against Southern Virginia Tuesday evening. The Keydets were able to win comfortably, beating SVU, 85-62. The highlight of the night was the performance of freshman forward Matt Murrer. Murrer just missed a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine boards behind a 9-for-10 shooting effort. Center Tim Allmond came close to a double-double as well with 12 points and nine rebounds.

This week, VMI battles the two highest-profile schools in the state. Dec. 5, Virginia comes to town as the Big South gets a rare home game against an ACC team. On Wednesday, the Keydets head south on Interstate 81 to battle nearby Virginia Tech.

Winthrop Eagles (3-1) Last Week: 2-0

The Eagles trailed at halftime of both of their games this week, yet managed to find a way to win both. Nov. 29, Division II Coker College surprised everybody at the Winthrop Coliseum by taking a one-point lead going into the half, but the Eagles turned up the defensive intensity and came away with a 65-50 victory, led by freshman Torrell Martin’s 18 points and six steals. Starting point guard Ivan Jenkins did not play due to a knee injury. Dec. 2, Jenkins returned and the Eagles won 67-66 over Eastern Kentucky, spearheaded by a 24-point effort off the bench by sophomore James Shuler. Jenkins did not seem bothered by his knee injury, scoring nine points while playing almost the whole game.

Winthrop has a busy slate this week as the team host its own tournament, the Brothers Air and Heat Shootout, during the weekend before heading to Athens, Ga., to battle Georgia Dec. 9. In the Shootout, Winthrop will host Samford Dec. 5 and then play either Hampton or Southern Mississippi Dec. 6.

     

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