November 18, 2001
Catawba tops Pfeiffer 98-90 at Goodman GymBy Steve Hanf, The Salisbury Post
Catawba men’s basketball coach Jim Baker wasn’t happy going into Saturday night’s opener and he wasn’t happy coming out of it, either.
Not even with that “1” in the win column.
Baker’s Indians survived Pfeiffer’s frenetic pace at Goodman Gym, pulling out a 98-90 victory in the 2001 debut for both squads.The quick Falcons forced 24 turnovers, but Catawba got a 31-point effort from junior forward Brian Carter and shot 57 percent from the field to notch the win and move along.
“I don’t like playing them.The way they play is just so unorthodox,”Baker said. “They just play so helter-skelter. You can’t run plays, you can’t run your offense — it’s just street ball.
“Luckily I’ve got a few athletes who can play that way, but I don’t want to have to play that way every day.”
Carter stole the show from the high-flying Falcons, soaring to the rim for three big dunks that brought the 1,642 fans to their feet. Carter also showed a nice shooting touch. He hit several baseline jumpers and finished 12-for-17 from the floor, adding seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals to an all-around great game.
“I was just playing hard,”Carter said. “It was my day today, it’ll be somebody else’s day next time.”
One thing is certain:Catawba guards Duke Phipps and Kevin Petty will enjoy Tuesday’s matchup with Claflin a whole lot more than seeing Pfeiffer again.
Phipps and Petty bore the brunt of the Falcon defensive intensity, as Pfeiffer guards Rico Grier, Tyree Harris and Darrin Wallace helped press the Catawba starting backcourt into 17 turnovers.
The Falcons forced five turnovers midway through the first half that led to a 10-0 run. Senior forward Antoine Wilkerson scored six points in that stretch to put Pfeiffer ahead 29-21.
Catawba stormed back, getting a pair of long 3-pointers from Petty and another deep shot from Phipps to spark a 12-2 spurt and reclaim the lead at 36-33.
“We could not shoot worse and Catawba made some bombs,”Falcons head coach Dave Davis said. “They made some shots we definitely wanted them shooting: ‘Yeah, that’s great!’ Then, boom, they’d knock it in.”
Catawba led 49-47 at the break despite turning the ball over 16 times. The key culprit was Pfeiffer’s cold shooting touch. The Falcons drained just 38 percent of their first-half attempts, while Catawba hit 58 percent.
Those percentages continued, but another key stat didn’t. Phipps and Petty started breaking the press and hitting open shots and open teammates. Catawba turned the ball over just six times in the final 20 minutes.
“They didn’t turn it over, and they also turned it into quick baskets,”Davis said. “That really took it out of us.”
That’s one subject he and Baker could agree on.
“Early on we were a little bit timid,”the Catawba coach said. “As the game went on, our guards really figured it out and did a nice job.”
Phipps led a second-half charge, hitting back-to-back layups near the midway mark of the final half. Catawba kept getting high-percentage shot attempts when Jacob Parks slammed home two points and center Alex Luyk hit a layup and dunk. That 10-2 run made it 84-72 Catawba with 7:44 to play.
“It’s the first time they ever got put in a situation where they had a true test, and I thought that really showed,”Davis said of his young team. “We were out of synch many times, and every time Catawba made a spurt and jumped out on us.”
Pfeiffer still made a game of it, pulling within 87-84 in the closing minutes before the Tribe iced it. With the shot clock at 1 second and a defender draped all over him, Quentin Bryant drove toward the 3-point line and launched a prayer that banked home.
“We needed that, but I don’t know,”said a laughing Carter. “I don’t know what to say about that.”
NOTES:Terrence McCutcheon led Pfeiffer with 24 points. Five others tallied eight or more points, including South Rowan product Damien Argrett. Argrett, a 6-foot-9 red-shirt freshman, scored nine points on 4 of 7 shooting. All things considered, he enjoyed his return to Goodman Gym. The last time he was there, at the 1999 Sam Moir Christmas Classic, he was an observer —an injured hand kept him from playing. “I was a little nervous,”Argrett admitted on his college debut. But he loves playing in Pfeiffer’s system. “I used to be a guard (before growing eight inches between his junior and senior years), so it’s really not that hard for me. We’ve been conditioning since August, so we’re all in pretty good shape.”