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Basketball (M)

Men's Basketball Sees Season End With Overtime Loss

AUGUSTA, GA -- No. 6-seeded Catawba overcame a 12-point deficit with 5:13 remaining to force overtime, but No. 3-seed Clayton State got two huge three-pointers from Michael Sloan in the extra frame to survive the first round of the 2007 NCAA DII South Atlantic Regional with a 72-69 victory at the Christenberry Fieldhouse in Augusta on Saturday afternoon.  The win places Clayton State, now 24-7, into the semifinals against Virginia Union on Sunday in the first semifinal matchup.  The Catawba Indians see their season come to an end at 20-11.

Trailing 62-50 with 5:13 left, the Indians took a page from Clayton State’s nationally-ranked defense to bring them back into the game.  Clayton State did not get a shot off from the field for a five-minute stretch at the end of regulation, while the Indians got two baskets from Chris Wooldridge and jumpers from Brian Graves and Ahmad Murphy to cut the lead to four, 62-58, with 1:40 left.

John Beugnot hit one free throw for Clayton State, then a three-pointer by SAC Freshman of the Year Antonio Houston brought Catawba to within two, 63-61, with 1:10
left.  Sloan missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving the Indians the ball. A foul by Arisitide Sawodogo put Norman Munroe on the line for two free throws, which he hit to tie the game at 63-all with 28.9 seconds left.

Clayton State held for the last shot, but Rod Venner’s layup missed the mark, sending the game into overtime.  Neither team scored in the first two and a half minutes of overtime, until Graves’ reverse layup put Catawba ahead, 65-63, with 2:39 remaining.  Sloan responded with a three from the right corner to put the Lakers back up 66-65 with 2:15 left.  Woodridge put the Indians back up with a baseline jumper with 1:46 left at 67-66, but another three-pointer from Sloan - this time from the left corner - made it 69-67 with 1:19 to go.

Houston went to the line with 24.8 seconds left and made one of two free throws to cut the Catawba deficit to one point.  Brandon Kelley made one of two free throws to push the lead back to two, then Houston went back to the line with 6.7 seconds left for Catawba and made one of two free throws.  Rod Venner made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, and Graves’ three-point attempt at the buzzer hit the back iron.

The end-game excitement made up for a lackluster first half in which neither team shot better than 33 percent.  Clayton State ended the first half on 11-3 run over the final four minutes to take a 32-26 into halftime.

Sloan and Jerome Boyd each led the Lakers with 15 points apiece, while All-PBC performer Todd MacLaurin scored 11 points before exiting early in the second half with an undisclosed injury.  Catawba was led by Graves’ 19 points and seven assists, while Houston pumped in 15 points and Woodlridge added 14 points.

The ending mirrored the regular season matchup between the two teams as
Clayton State narrowly defeated Catawba, 76-75, back on December 2 in Salisbury, NC.

Clayton State Head Coach Gordon Gibbons
“We thought the key for us would be defense and in the first half, we did a good job of defending them.  We did not shoot it great, but we had a little bit of a spread.  We got the 10 point lead and we were a little shaky down the stretch, there was a little bit of fatigue.  Losing (Todd) McLaurin gave us one less guard in our rotation, we hope to have him back tomorrow.  We didn’t want to chance it today.”

“We had 19 offensive rebounds.  We didn’t convert a layup on every one, but those additional possessions helped us maintain that lead in the second half that ultimately got us over the top.  One thing about this group of guys is that they are unbelievably competitive and they’re going to fight until the end.  And the one thing that they have that is constant is their defense and they were a little tired and gave up a couple of easy ones, but they got the big stop at the end.   That’s been our modus operandi all year long.”


Catawba Head Coach Jim Baker
“I thought it was a very good basketball game, Clayton State has a very good basketball team.  I think we’ve got a pretty good team, we make a few free throws and we probably win the thing.   We, it seemed like, for the first 30 minutes...every loose ball, we were battling for it and Clayton would make a spectacular play.  The ball would bounce around and then one of their guys would make a reverse layup or something crazy would happen.  It boiled down to making a couple of free throws, and that’s it.”

On their comeback: “It seemed like they got a little bit cautious with 3-4 minutes left.  It took us 2-3 possessions to get our double-teams going with our post players.  We got them knocked back on their heels and once we got into overtime, I thought the advantage was definitely ours.  We made some plays both offensively and defensively and we just missed the free throws.”

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