GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan won Friday’s night date with Salisbury despite making just 13 field goals.
The 46-42 win supplied the Mustangs with some much needed confidence and redefined their style, if you can call it that.
“We’re going to have to be ugly,” East coach Trey Ledbetter said. “Speeding the game up defensively and slowing it down offensively.”
A deliberate pace won the race against the county rival that pounded East in the season opener. The Mustangs won with defense and a lightning-quick point guard. Senior Donte Means netted a game-high 17 points and Conor Honeycutt provided a clutch spark with 10 points to give East its second win in as many nights.
“We played hard defense to get Salisbury off their game,” Means said. “It was good but it wasn’t where we need it to be.”
Means sunk 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. He hit a pair with 11.8 seconds left for the final margin.
Salisbury made 17 field goals but was a dismal 5 for 17 from the foul line. The Hornets, coming off a 59-46 win against Robinson, hit two shots from the floor in the second quarter.
“I can’t pinpoint any one or two things,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “It wasn’t a very good night for us.”
Josh Gobble nailed a trey to make it 10-10 after one quarter. The lead went back and forth a few times before a putback from Honeycutt gave East the lead for keeps at 16-14.
“We played them the first game of the year and this was a measuring stick,” Ledbetter said. “Apparently we measured up.”
Means ended a 7-0 run with a steal and a layup to force a Salisbury timeout. East led 22-16 at the break and resumed its roll by hitting a 7-2 spurt to start the second half. Sam Wyrick got a block on defense and scooted downfloor for a layup to make it 29-18. Means was hit with a technical foul and Salisbury got back in it. Deshawn Troutman, who finished with a team-high 12 points, hit an and 1 to close the gap to 32-27 at the end of the third.
Buster Hillie nailed a trey to bring the Hornets within 32-30. East got the next six points to stretch it back out aagin.
“We were sluggish on both ends of the court,” Causby said. “We’ve got to be on the ball more and pressure them. We can’t let them dissect it apart.”
Consecutive baskets from Troutman pulled the Hornets within 41-38 with 2:24 left. Wyrick hit two free throws and Corban Usry hit a basket on consecutive possessions. Hillie and Keion Adams missed close-range attempts and East called timeout with 1:02 left and a 43-40 edge. Adams’ putback made it 44-42 with 13.6 seconds left, but the Hornets never got closer. Petty finished with 10 points.
“We stressed defense and told the guys that we battled hard the whole time,” Ledbetter said.
SALISBURY (42) — Troutman 12, T. Petty 10, Adams 7, Usry 4, Fazia 4, Hillie 3, Alexander 2, Yang, Brown, J. Petty.
EAST ROWAN (46) — Means 17, Honeycutt 10, Sa. Wyrick 7, Gobble 7, L’Hommedieu 3, Edwards 2, Bell, Corpening, Se. Wyrick.
Salisbury 10 6 11 15 — 42
E. Rowan 10 12 10 14 — 46