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Basketball (M)

Men's Basketball Digs Early Hole in Loss at Wingate

WINGATE, NC -- Catawba made a furious second-half rally, but came up short in falling to host Wingate 90-81 in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Monday night at Cuddy Arena. The Bulldogs improve to 9-4 overall and 2-1 in the SAC, while the Catawba Indians fall to 6-7 and 1-1.

Senior Chris Wooldridge (Norfolk, VA) scored a career-high 29 points to give the Tribe a chance. Wingate led by as many as 18 points in the opening half only to see the Tribe get within two points with five minutes to play.

Catawba trailed 54-40 with 17:31 remaining, but used a 11-3 run which was capped by a three-pointer by Antonio Houston (Charlotte, NC) to get within 57-51 with 15:15 to go. Wingate pulled back on top by 11 at 66-55 only to see Wooldridge help spur the Tribe with four baskets on a 17-7 surge that cut the deficit to 73-71.

Rob Fields (Orangeburg, SC) kept the Tribe within a bucket at 78-76 on a three-point play with three minutes on the clock. Down seven, Wooldridge hit two free throws to get Catawba within 83-78, but Brian Graves (Newport News, VA) was called for a charge after a steal, which negated a basket. Wingate did enough at the line from there, making 7-of-8 in the final minute.

Wooldridge hit on 12-of-20 from the field in collecting his career-best 29 points. He added seven boards and four steals. Houston tossed in a dozen, while Graves had 10 points, eight assists and five steals. Sean Barnette (Rock Hill, SC) had 24 points to pace the Bulldogs, including 13 in the opening half. Bill Smith (Manasquan, NJ) had 14 points. Justin Baker (Lumberton, NC) posted a double-double for Wingate with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Bryan Grier (Charlotte, NC) had 13 points, nine boards and four blocked shots.

Wingate controlled the boards, holding a 49-35 advantage, but did have 29 turnovers to just 18 for the Tribe. The Bulldogs shot 56% in the opening half to just 37% for Catawba in grabbing its 49-33 lead. Wingate finished at 51% and Catawba at 41%. The Tribe failed to cash in on some opportunities at the line, making only 21-of-36 (58%) from the stripe.

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