March 4, 2007
Men's Basketball Falls to Wingate in SAC Tournament Final
Wooldridge, Houton earn all-tournament honors
HICKORY, NC -- Wingate got a career-high 35 points from Sean Barnette (Rock Hill, SC) and defeated Catawba 97-82 to claim its season straight Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship on Sunday afternoon at the Multipurpose Arena at Catawba Valley Community College. The third-seeded Bulldogs improve to 22-8 and receive the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA II South Atlantic Regional Tournament. Catawba, the SAC Champions, fall to 20-10 and will await a possible at-large berth in the regionals.
Barnette, earned tournament MVP honors for the second year in a row as he posted a double-double by adding 10 rebounds to his career-best 35 points. Bryan Grier (Charlotte, NC) had 16 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots for Wingate and was also a member of the all-tournament team. Catawba placed Chris Wooldridge (Norfolk, VA) and freshman Antonio Houston (Charlotte, NC) on the team and were joined by Reggie Bratton (Charlotte, NC), of Lenoir-Rhyne.
Houston had 22 points and connected on four three-point field goals. Wooldridge also posted a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds, which also set a tournament championship game record.
A Barnette hoop with 12:35 remaining in the first half gave the Bulldogs an 18-17 advantage they would not relinquish. Wingate shot 51.2 percent in the first half, taking a 47-45 lead at intermission. Barnette led all scorers with 18 points in the opening frame. Wooldridge topped the Catawba charts with 14 first-half points.
The Catawba Indians tied the game three times in the second half, but could never take the lead. A Houston hoop with 17:18 left in the contest knotted the game for the final time at 53-53. Baker hit a jumper on an in-bounds play at the 17:08 mark to put Wingate up 55-53.
A traditional three-point play by Barnette gave Wingate a 76-63 lead with 8:24 left in the title tilt. Two Barnette free throws gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead at 95-77 with 2:23 to go. Catawba shot just 39% in the game and a mere 33% in the final half. Wingate canned 67% in the final 20 minutes and finished at 57% for the contest. Catawba did hold a 49-37 edge on the boards.
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