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Basketball (M)

Men's Basketball Advances to SAC Tournament Final

Tribe to play for sixth tourney title

SALISBURY, NC -- Catawba overcame a rough start to knock off Lenoir-Rhyne 74-70 in the semifinals of the 2007 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Multipurpose Arena at Catawba Valley Community College.  The top-seeded Catawba Indians improve to 20-9, while the Bears, seeded fourth, fall to 18-10.  The Indians advance to face the winner of the Presbyterian/Wingate semifinal on Sunday.  Catawba will be making its sixth SAC Tournament final and has won on the previous five occasions.

Lenoir-Rhyne burst out of the gate, scoring the first 11 points, and led virtually the entire first half.  Catawba managed to tie the game at 29-29 on a layup by Norman Monroe (Newport News, VA) with 4:15 left, but the Bears took a 33-30 lead to the break.

The Bears led 48-43 with 12 minutes to play before Catawba used a 8-2 run to grab its first lead of the game.  Brian Graves (Newport News, VA) started the run with a three-pointer, while Antonio Houston (Charlotte, NC) hit a three-pointer then made two free throws to put the Tribe up 51-50 with nine minutes remaining.

 The game would be tied five times and saw eight lead changes from that point.  Josh Kindred put the Bears up 62-59 with 4:52 to go, but Ahmad Murphy (Orangeburg, SC) and Graves each hit two free throws to move Catawba back on top at 63-62 with 3:52 remaining.  Kindred gave the Bears the lead on a dunk then Graves hit a three-pointer for a 66-64 Catawba edge with 2:36 left.

A Kindred layup and a free throw by Reggie Bratton gave LR a 67-66 lead, but Murphy scored with 1:24 left to give Catawba the lead for good.  The Indians had made just 5-of-13 at the line in the opening half, but cashed in on 14-of-19 in the second half, including all six in the final 1:03.

After a pair of free throws by Graves with 27 seconds left put Catawba up 72-67, Bratton was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three from the stripe with six seconds to go, cutting the Tribe lead to 72-70.  Houston was fouled with five seconds remaining and made both shots to put the game on ice.

Houston, the league Freshman of the Year, scored 21 points to pace Catawba.  Graves added 13 and Murphy 13.  Monroe also reached double figures, scoring all 10 of his points in the opening half.  Bratton led all scorers with 28 for LR.  Kindred followed with 18 points and 10 rebounds. 

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