Basketball (M)

Men's Basketball Puts Up Stiff Challenge at UNC Wilmington

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WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Catawba opened its 2014-15 men's basketball season on Saturday with a 97-68 exhibition loss to NCAA I UNC Wilmington at Trask Coliseum.  It marked the first game for the Catawba Indians under new head coach Rob Perron.

Catawba hung tight with the Colonial Conference foe for the opening half, trailing just 45-43 at the break.  Turnovers would do Catawba in during the second half as Wilmington pulled away over the final 10 minutes.

Sophomore transfer Rakeen Brown (Hampton, Va./Bethel HS/Delaware St.) led Catawba in scoring with 13 points, while freshman Jerrin Morrison (Charlotte, N.C./E. Mecklenburg HS) posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior Kijuan Arrington (Newport News, Va./Denbigh HS/Henry CC) added 11 points and eight rebounds for the visitors with sophomore transfer  Ben Sealey (Hampton, Va./Menchville HS/Virginia Intermont) tossing in 10 points.  Catawba shot just 29% compared to 50% for UNCW.  The Seahawks cashed in 17 Tribe turnovers for 26 points. 

The back-and-forth first half featured 13 lead changes and six ties.  Cedrick Williams, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds for UNCW, put the Seahawks up 20-17 midway through the first half, its largest lead at that point.  Dominique Henderson (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek HS) helped erase that deficit as he sank three free throws and followed with a three-pointer to put the Indians up 25-22 at the 8:12 mark of the half.

The Seahawks moved up 32-25 before Sealey hit on a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to trim the deficit to 36-34.  Down six in the closing minutes of the half, Sealey canned another three-pointer and Jameel Taylor (Anderson, S.C./TL Hanna HS) added a steal and layup to make it 42-41 before the Indians went to the break down two.

At the start of the second half, Brown sank a three-pointer to put Catawba back on top and Arrington scored on a follow shot to put the Indians up 48-47.  That would be the Tribe's last lead as Addison Spruill hit a layup to put UNCW up 49-48 with 16:39 left.  The Seahawks got their first double-digit lead on a jumper by C.J. Gettys with 13:12 remaining.

Arrington hit a three-pointer to keep the Indians close at 76-64 with 9:48 remaining, but Catawba scored just four points the rest of the game.  Ten of Catawba's 17 turnovers came after the break, while the Seahawks did not commit a second-half turnover until there were just under seven minutes to play. 

Taylor just missed a double-double in his first collegiate outing, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds.  Julian Sampah (Greensboro, N.C./Greensboro Day) and Henderson each tallied six points.  Sampah grabbed eight boards.

Malik Pugh led all scorers with 20 points for the hosts.  Freddie Jackson tallied 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Gettys had 14 points and seven boards.  Dylan Sherwood did not score, but did pull down 10 rebounds.

Catawba will open its season on Friday at Goodman Gym against Francis Marion at 8 p.m.  That game is part of a SAC/PBC Challenge that will see Lenoir-Rhyne face UNC Pembroke at 6 p.m.  Catawba and Lenoir-Rhyne will switch opponents on Saturday with games again at 6 and 8 p.m.

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