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Basketball (M)

Men's Basketball Advances With 67-63 Win in SAC Tournament Opener

Houston nets 1,000th career point, just 3rd in school history as a sophomore

SALISBURY, NC -- Catawba claimed a 67-63 over visiting Tusculum in the opening round of the 2008 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday night at Goodman Gym.  The forth-seeded Catawba Indians improve to 17-11 and advance to face top-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne in a Saturday afternoon semifinal at Catawba Valley Community College.  The fifth-seeded Pioneers end their season at 13-15.  It marked the third time in the last five years the teams have met in the first round and each time the team that swept the regular-season series lost the tournament encounter.  Tusculum had claimed 82-79 and 65-61 wins over Catawba earlier this year.

Rob Fields (Orangeburg, SC/Orangeburg-Wilkerson HS) came off the bench to equal his career-high of 19 points to lift Catawba.  Antonio Houston (Charlotte, NC/E. Mecklenburg HS) scored 14 points and became just the third player in school history to reach 1,000 career points as a sophomore.  He has 1,013 points.

A pair of Pioneers posted double-doubles in the loss.  Jordan Lear (Zanesville, OH) had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Lavonti Jeter (Alexandria, VA) added 13 points and 10 boards.  Kyle Moore (Gainesville, FL) also reached double figures with 14 points.

The game was tightly contested throughout as lead changed hands 10 times and was tied another 10.  The largest lead of the game was five points which each team enjoyed on several occasions.  Catawba built one its five point leads midway through the opening half went it went on top 21-16 at the 10:38 mark.  A three-pointer by Fields in the closing seconds of the half gave the Indians a 32-31 lead at the break.

Tusculum grabbed the lead early in the second half and pushed the margin to 49-44 on a three-pointer and jumper by Lear with 10:17 left.  Fields would answer for Catawba with five straight points of his own to knot the game at 54-all with 7:26 remaining.  A basket by Norman Monroe (Newport News, VA/Heritage HS) put the Tribe up for good at 56-54 with 6:58 left, but Tusculum stayed close down the stretch.

Jeter cut the TC deficit to 63-60 with 2:03 remaining and a free throw by Ryan Troutman (Mt. Washington, KY) got the Pioneers within 63-61 with 20 seconds left.  Fields made two free throws with 18 seconds to play, but Jeter scored with four ticks on the clock to reduce the margin to 65-63.  Jason Diggs (Christiansburg, VA/Christiansburg HS) iced the game with two free throws with 3.5 seconds left.

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