March 15, 2008
Men's Basketball Suffers Another OT Defeat at Regionals
AUGUSTA, GA -- Third-seeded Wingate held on to defeat No. 6-seed Catawba 79-76 in overtime in a quarterfinal matchup of the 2008 NCAA Division II South Atlantic Men’s Basketball Regional Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Christenberry Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs, which were led by Sean Barnette’s 28 points and 12 rebounds, improve to 24-6 and advance to a Sunday semifinal against host Augusta State. The Catawba Indians, which also fell in overtime in last season's regional, end their season at 19-11.
Bulldog Bryan Grier added 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots as Wingate overcame a seven-point, second-half deficit (36-29 with 15:23 remaining) to take the win. Dominick Reid (Charlotte, NC/Cannon School) led Catawba with 22 points while Antonio Houston (Charlotte, NC/E. Mecklenburg HS) added 18 points, but the Bulldogs held the Catawba Indians to just 36 percent shooting (25-of-70) from the field.
Barnette hit the game-tying lay-up with 35 seconds left to force overtime tied at 65-65 and led by as many as six points (78-72 with 1:57 left) in the extra stanza. Catawba, however, never gave up and lost when Isaac Rose’s (Jonesboro, NC/W. Forsyth HS) three-point attempt rimmed off as time expired. Rose finished with 14 points in the losing effort.
The Indians took a three-point lead with 1:47 left in regulation on a three-pointer by Rose and were up 65-63 after Houston made one of two free throws with 53 seconds to play. Catawba came up with a steal with 45 seconds to go, but the Bulldogs caused a turnover that led to Barnette’s layup. Catawba held for a final shot, but were called for a five second closely-guarded violation with nine second left. Barnette missed a shot at the buzzer.
Catawba struggled shooting early on, hitting just 29% in the opening half. The Indians used a strong effort on the boards as they outscored Wingate 11-2 on second-chance points. Catawba overcame an early 7-2 deficit to lead by six on two occasions in the first half before taking a 27-25 lead at the half.
Catawba Head Coach Jim Baker
“I felt like we were right there and had a couple of chances to win it. Two plays in that whole game, as close as it was, made the big difference. I thought my kids played well, they executed. We had a couple of things just slip through our hands late. The ball just bounced around and fell out of our hands. It was a good game, unfortunately we came out three points short.”
“I thought our game plan was good, we grinded, made plays. We were right there. A bounce there, a rebound here, a free throw and a call...and that’s how close it is.”
“We’ve got a very good nucleus returning. I just wish we could have pulled the thing out.”
Wingate Head Coach Parker Laketa
“I’m not surprised that the game was so close. Jim Baker’s a terrific coach, he’s got a young team and I knew he would have the prepared. I thought it would be more of an offensive game and it ended up being more of a defensive struggle. But our experience was the difference in the game.
“We’ve been playing our best basketball, here these last few years, at the end of the season. We did have a good run here last year and I’m just glad that its continuing. We’re fortunate enough to get a three seed in this tournament, and its just survive and advance.”
Wingate’s Sean Barnette
(On having played in the regional before): “That played a big part because we knew what to expect. We knew it would be a tight game. We’ve been here before and we know what it takes to win. Having that experience from last year helped everybody out because we only have two new players, so that played a big part.”
(On missing a shot late in regulation): “My intention was to get it all the way to the basket. I pulled up and I was forced to take a bad shot. I felt like I really needed to redeem myself because I let my team down at the end of regulation. So I wanted to step it up big time in the overtime and just do whatever it took to get the win.”
Wingate’s Bryan Grier
(On returning after missing three games): “I feel great. Watching the past three games, being hurt, I just tried to stay positive and have faith in my teammates. I think it was a
blessing for us because it gave other guys opportunities to play and gave them more experience and more confidence to come in and play. When coach has to go to the bench, he doesn’t have to worry about how long he’s got to sit him out, those guys are ready to step up and play.”
(On advancing in the tournament:): “It’s hard, it’s all hard. It’s like coming into the season for the first game. If you’re fortunate enough to get in the NCAA tournament, whoever’s in; those are the top teams in the country. If you win your conference tournament, you’re playing hot at that moment, you can beat anybody. We’re fortunate to get out alive. That’s just how it is. You gotta love it, especially if you’re on the winning side.”