College Basketball : Catawba 63, Tusculum 61
Catawba’s men’s basketball team held off Tusculum 63-61 and defended its SAC tournament championship Sunday afternoon at Hickory’s Catawba Valley Community College.
Fourth-seeded Catawba (21-9), which knocked off top seed Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday night, secured an automatic bid to the South Atlantic Regional. Tusculum (20-10) may get an at-large bid.
Catawba won its seventh tournament championship. Antonio Houston was named tournament MVP.
Tusculum wiped out an eight-point deficit late in the game and took a 58-57 lead on a Kyle Moore 3-pointer with 49 seconds left.
Houston turned an offensive board into a three-point play with 33 seconds to go, and the Indians led 60-58.
After Wes Taylor’s three-point play put the Pioneers back up by one, Catawba’s all-tournament point guard Dominick Reid hit two free throws with nine seconds left to put Catawba ahead 62-61.
Cliff Burns (Davie) then rebounded a Tusculum miss. Burns was fouled with 0.2 seconds left and added a free throw for the final margin.
Houston scored 16 points for the Indians, while Rob Fields had 14. Burns had 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Moore, the SAC Player of the Year, scored 18 points for the Pioneers.
Tusculum led 26-23 at halftime, but an 8-0 run early in the second half gave the Indians a lead they held until Moore led a late charge by Tusculum.
Catawba shot just 36.5 percent, and Tusculum committed only five turnovers, but the Indians’ 40-31 edge on the glass was decisive.
“I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there,” Catawba coach Jim Baker said. “Even when we were down today, I had a calm feeling. Our kids have been here before and we came up with big plays. They did not panic.”
Box is in Scoreboard.