By Mike London
MISENHEIMER — Pfeiffer’s Thomas Carr passed up an open 3-point look, and five coaches and 10 teammates instantly made a shoot-the-darned-ball gesture.
Visiting Belmont Abbey desperately wanted Carr to shoot.
So did Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer was proven smarter.
Carr hit six 3-pointers, including five in the first half, and the Falcons claimed a 96-71 CVAC victory at Merner Gym.
“We like to play the game inside and outside,” Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis explained. “They were saying, ‘You don’t have an outside,’ but we did a great job of taking what they gave us.”
The strategy employed by fiery Belmont Abbey coach Dale Kuhl made sense. Pfeiffer’s alternating post players — 6-foot-6 Logan Call and 6-3 Tavares Cooper — have been wrecking opponents. So has all-star guard DeMario Grier.
Belmont Abbey double-teamed the post in the first half, had one defender stay in Grier’s face and dared everyone else to put it up.
Carr, a smooth-stroking Ohio southpaw, accepted the challenge.
“I’m usually milking our post players as much as I can, but their defense was giving me opportunities,” Carr said. “I haven’t been shooting well, but the coaches have told me to shoot, shoot, shoot. I paid back their faith some.”
(5-0, 2-0) hit six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes and rolled to a 30-18 lead. With the Crusaders (2-4, 1-1) coughing up 18 of their 28 turnovers before the break, Pfeiffer sprinted to a 59-37 halftime advantage.
“Our pressure on the ball was phenomenal, and so was our offensive rebounding,” Davis said. “We’re the smallest team in the country, but whenever we missed, we seemed to get the ball back.”
Belmont Abbey, which got 22 points from Anthony Bell and 20 from Brooks Beard, cut Pfeiffer’s lead to 11 points with 13 minutes left, but the Falcons answered with a blistering 10-0 run that began with a turnaround jumper by Call, a drive by Derek Moore and a three-point play by Cooper that had Kuhl pleading with officials for an offensive foul.
Suddenly the lead was back to 21, and helpful Pfeiffer fans informed Kuhl it was time to warm up the bus.
“Definitely this was our best game, the first game we’ve stayed out of foul trouble and avoided injury,” Davis said. “We beat a team that can win a lot of games.”
Grier started slowly, but he still finished with 18 points.
“They were hugging me 90 feet from the basket, but we had guys step up on offense, and I got back to my defensive ways,” he said. “I liked this game. We’ll take a win like this anytime.”
BELMONT ABBEY (71) — Bell 22, Beard 20, Hoff 8, Murphy 6, Jackson 5, Kuhlman 3, Papans 2, Bauza 2, Marczenko 2, McDowell 1, Fells, Patus.
PFEIFFER (96) — Carr 18, Grier 18, Cooper 15, Call 12, Co. Thomas 9, McGriff 9, Moore 7, Brown 6, Hodges 2, Cr. Thomas, Truesdale, Sisk, Gonzalez.
B. Abbey 37 34 — 71
Pfeiffer 59 37 — 96