College Basketball: Catawba 97, Pfeiffer 94
By Mike London
Crazy as it sounds, Catawba’s men’s basketball team used defense to win Sunday’s 97-94 struggle against Pfeiffer.
Catawba enjoys a brisk pace and didn’t mind the score penetrating the 90s. Pfeiffer enjoys a Talladega pace and wanted to win 125-124.
With 10 minutes left, Pfeiffer led 80-73 and was still on track for 107. But Catawba’s defense tightened, and Pfeiffer, which ran USC Aiken into the ground with 40 minutes of heck on Saturday, hit the wall a little and came up short on jumpshots. In those final, frantic 10 minutes, the Falcons (2-2) made just three field goals, including a 3-pointer that sizzling Jeff Pettiway banked in to beat the buzzer.
“Most of the game, Pfeiffer forced the issue and just took it to us,” Catawba guard Rob Fields said. “But those last 10 minutes we chopped away at their lead and we got a big stop here and a big stop there. Then we finally got over the hump at the end.”
The Indians (3-1) trailed 65-52 after Kierre Jordan hit a jumper with 14:25 left, but it’s not like Pfeiffer’s run-and-stun coach Dave Davis is going to signal for the Four Corners.
Fields led the Indians with 21 points, 16 after halftime. Antonio Houston and Donald Rutherford scored 19 apiece. Cameron Lovelace hit three 3s. Dominick Reid gutted it out after hurting an ankle. Donzell Williams missed some easy shots, but he and Rutherford combined to swat 10 shots.
Pettiway had an awesome shooting day for the Falcons ó 6-for-7 on 3s and 25 points. Jordan added 19 points, but Pfeiffer’s standout post player Chris Woods was held to 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting. Woods ordinarily doesn’t miss nine shots in two weeks.
“The main objective was to contain Woods because he’s one heck of a player,” Rutherford said. “That first half ó oh, man ó but then I got my second wind and we started to go. We picked it up those last 10 minutes.”
Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis had five subs sprinting to the scorer’s table 53 seconds into the game, and his team forced 12 first-half turnovers for a 51-41 lead.
“The first half we rushed our shots ó just too eager,” said Catawba coach Jim Baker, who notched career win No. 289. “Pfeiffer’s tough to play. Their first group has scorers, and then their second group brings so much energy. They just keep going and going. Still, I thought we’d be OK. If we could hold Woods to 20, we’d be OK.”
The Indians made their move at the 10-minute mark when Houston hit a 3-pointer cut the gap to 80-73. It was 87-83 with 4:06 remaining after Houston drove and dished to Rutherford.
Pfeiffer had a tough time with Fields, who took charge during the last three minutes. He drilled four straight free throws and a tough floater to make it 89-89 with 2:28 left.
“Those last few minutes we just missed out on the rebounds and loose balls we’d been getting the whole game,” Pettiway said.
With 1:21 left, Houston got a defensive rebound and led a fastbreak that Fields finished. Catawba led 93-91, its first lead since 11-8.
When Pfeiffer missed twice on its next possession, Houston claimed another manly board. Then Fields knocked down a difficult, hanging shot over the arms of 6-foot-6 James Crowder with 44 seconds left. That was the backbreaker.
“We made some steps today toward being a good team,” Davis said. “But Catawba has the veterans. They were the tougher team down the stretch.”
Pfeiffer (94) ó Pettiway 25, Jordan 19, Woods 16, Hollinger 8, Crowder 7, Yamaguchi 7, Rivera 5, Morse 2, Gilliard 2, Carr 2, Truesdale 1, Eaford.catawba (97) ó Fields 21, Houston 19, Rutherford 19, Lovelace 11, Reid 8, Coles 8, Williams 7, Huntley 4, Martin, Shoemaker.
Pfeiffer 51 43 ó 94
Catawba 41 56 ó 97