College hoops: Catawba 78, Chowan 55

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 5, 2009

By David Shaw
CHARLOTTE ó It was a Saturday afternoon sleeper ó and just what the Catawba men’s basketball team needed.
The Indians rebounded from their worst outing of season with a 78-55 win over Chowan in the Walt Baker Classic at near-empty Time Warner Cable Arena.
“Until you get out there and get your head kicked in, you forget how hard you have to work,” Catawba coach Jim Baker said. “We have gone through that a little bit. Against Lenoir-Rhyne (a 95-77 conference loss on Wednesday), we played the worst we’ve played all year. So yeah, we needed this.”
Catawba (5-3) also needed senior Donald Rutherford, a 6-foot-6 forward who topped all Indian scorers with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He was a glass-eating machine in the first half, when he snagged nine rebounds and helped Catawba mount a 35-19 lead.
“We definitely needed some kind of statement game,” Rutherford said. “I made of point of rebounding in the first half because that speeds the game up.”
And Chowan (3-2) figured passing the ball around, slowing the pace and working for high-percentage shots was the best way to extend its winning streak to three games. Instead, the Hawks made only 8 of 33 field-goal attempts in the first half and dug themselves an inescapable hole.
“We actually wanted to play up-tempo basketball,” Chowan coach Jim Tribbett said. “We’ve got to play like a bunch of old men at the YMCA. That’s our system. We’ve got to play with a high basketball IQ ó you know, the open man gets the open shot.”
That’s precisely the strategy that sparked the Indians to an early 9-2 lead. Stephen Coles hit a 15-foot jump shot to open the scoring and teammate Donzell Williams kissed a reverse layup off the backboard and through the hoop in the opening 90 seconds.
Then senior Antonio Houston ó a 6-3 guard out of East Meck ó knocked down a 10-foot jumper from the left side and a 3-pointer from the left corner.
“The key to that run was (Baker) preaching for us to get the ball out, look down the floor and push it,” Houston said. “When we did that, this team couldn’t keep up with us.”
Baker was disappointed when Catawba shot just 40 percent in the first half and still owned a 16-point lead.
“We missed a bunch of easy shots,” he said. “We could have been up by at least 12 more if we had made some of those easier plays.”
Catawba kept pushing, even when Baker installed his second unit. None of his starters played more than 24 minutes and only Rutherford and Houston (10 points) cracked double figures. The Indians’ bench outscored Chowan’s 37-15, led by Rob Fields (nine points and four assists) and Justin Huntley (eight points).”They were playing with a sense of urgency ó physical right from the start,” Trippett said. “While we were shooting 3s, they were cutting to the basket and getting to the free-throw line.”
Houston agreed.
“We didn’t come out with a chip on our shoulders,” Houston said. “Because we thought this would be a tough game. We were ready for them. We came around, played our game and got another win on the road.”
NOTES: Paid attendance was listed as 122. The game was a preliminary to the Charlotte Bobcats-Philadelphia 76ers game. … Chowan’s 51/2-hour trip from the state’s northwest corner began Saturday at 6 a.m. “Then when we got here, we couldn’t get in the building until an hour before game time,” Tribbett reported. … Catawba point guard Dominick Reid, a starter who was sent to the hospital with dehydration Wednesday night, played 14 minutes off the bench.
CHOWAN (55) ó Brown 16, Nelson 11, Morrison 10, Hicks 7, Rhodes 3, Anderson 2, Smalls 2, Fairley 2, Branscome 2.
CATAWBA (78) ó Rutherford 16, Houston 10, Fields 9, Williams 8, Huntley 8, Martin 7, Coles 6, Smogner 4, Lovelace 4, Drakeford 3, Reid 2, Shoemaker 1, Thomson.
Chowan 19 36 ó 55
Catawba 35 43 ó 78