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Basketball (M)

Late Free Throws Seal Men's Basketball's Win Over Lenoir-Rhyne

SALSIBURY, NC -- Catawba made nine-of-ten free throws in the final 1:25 to earn a 91-85 win over Lenoir-Rhyne in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Wednesday night at Goodman Gym.  The Catawba Indians, ranked 14th in NCAA II, improve to 7-0 overall and 1-0 in the SAC in an early showdown of the pre-season league favorites.  The Bears fall to 3-3 and 0-1.

Antonio Houston (Charlotte, NC/E. Mecklenburg HS) scored 22 points, while Rob Fields (Orangeburg, SC/Orangeburg-Wilkerson HS) added 20 points to pace the Indians.  Houston would grab six rebounds and add four steals.  Dominick Reid (Charlotte, NC/Cannon School) picked up 16 points, going nine-of-10 at the line.  D.J. Blackmon (Albemarle, NC) scored a career-high 28 points and added a dozen rebounds in a losing effort for LR.

A 12-0 spurt midway through the final half gave the Indians an edge they would not surrender.  The Bears held a 51-49 lead after a jumper by Julius Powell (Newton, NC) with 12:24 to go, but Catawba scored a dozen points in a three and half minute span to go up by 10.  Donald Rutherford (Morganton, NC/Freedom HS) tied the game and consecutive three-pointers by Isaac Rose (Jonesville, NC/W. Forsyth HS) and Houston pushed the margin to six.

Catawba held a 71-59 edge with 5:14 remaining, but the Bears closed within four with 2:54 left on a pair of free throws by Blackmon at 74-70.  Baskets by Reid and Houston put Catawba up by eight and the Bears never got closer than five the rest of the way as the Indians salted the victory away at the line.

The teams battled through 11 ties and 11 lead changes, mainly in the opening half, with the teams going to the break even at 37-all.  Catawba shot 60% in the second half, finishing at 51% for the game.  After hitting just two-of-12 from three-point range in the opening half the Tribe hit on four-of-eight from long range in the final 20 minutes.  The Bears hit on 48% for the game and held a 38-32 edge on the boards, but Catawba made five less turnovers.

Rose also reached double figures for Catawba with 11 points and Rutherford had 10 points and eight rebounds.  Elliott McDowell (Canton, NC) tossed in 15 for Lenoir-Rhyne with Powell adding 13 off the bench.

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