D-II Basketball: Alabama-Huntsville 84, Catawba 77
By Mike London
SALISBURY ó ěYouíre making that kid look like an All-American,î yelled a frustrated Catawba hoops fan on Sunday.
Catawba assistant womenís hoops coach Ricky Joines, who was seated on press row, responded quietly, ěThatís because he is an All-American.î
The guy creating all that discussion was Alabama-Huntsvilleís sensational point guard Josh Magette, who looks like a 6-foot Cub Scout but probably should be checked out by NBA scouts.
Magette doesnít pass the eye test, but neither did Mark Price.
Magette had 16 assists and just two turnovers while running the show for 40 minutes as Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) held off Catawba 84-77 at Goodman Gym.
ěHeís probably the best I ever played against,î said Catawbaís talented sophomore Keon Moore. ěWe knew what he could do, but then when you actually see him do it, heís even better on the court than he is on paper. He proved heís an All-American, no doubt.î
Ranked second nationally, UAH (3-0) actually came to Goodman Gym with two players who earned All-America honors after they made a run to the Elite Eight last spring. Besides Magette, they had 6-foot-8, 245-pound hulk Zane Campbell operating inside.
Magetteís vision and passing enabled UAH to shoot 61.5 percent in the first half and 56 percent for the game. The Chargers put six players in double figures, but the Indians (2-2) still had a chance until Jaime Smithís dagger 3 with 23 seconds remaining.
ěCatawba never went away,î Magette said. ěWe got off to a fast start, but it was a dogfight after that. We expected it. We knew how good their home record was.î
As young as the Indians are and as early in the season as it is, Catawba put up a fierce fight against one of the nationís best.
UAH focused on stopping Moore and limited him to 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting, but soaring freshman Tyrece Little (15), smooth point guard Willie Gilmore (13) and rugged Maurice Knight (11) joined him in double figures. Lee Martin and Stuart Thomson contributed eight points each off the bench.
ěWe started two freshmen and Huntsville is just the opposite with a bunch of seniors and juniors,î Catawba coach Jim Baker said. ěEvery time they had to score, they got the shot they wanted and they made it. I canít fault our effort in any way and we did some good things, but weíve just got to execute better at the end of games.î
UAH drained eight of its dozen 3-pointers in the first half and had the Indians down by as many as 14, but Little, who had four eye-popping blocks, led a rally that lifted Catawba within 46-43 at halftime.
At the outset of the second half, Magette whistled passes that generated four layups in a two-minute span to push the lead back to double digits.UAH was in jeopardy when it lost Campbell to fouls at the 6:37 mark, but Magette never lost control of the game.
Catawba trailed 81-75 with 1:35 remaining after Knight muscled in a layup. UAH burned 32 seconds of clock before Magette missed a 3-pointer and Mooreís pair of free throws made it 81-77 with 45 seconds left.
Thatís when UAH stayed poised, ran a play, and Smith buried his game-clincher.
ěJaime is a great shooter,î Magette said. ěWeíve played together since we were third-graders, and thatís a huge advantage for us.î
The Indians were upbeat in the aftermath of a physical, emotional setback.
ěI felt like we played better than we expected,î Moore said. ěWeíve been talking about how young we are and how we hoped we could compete this year and be really good next year. But after today, weíre thinking weíre about where we need to be.î
ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE (84) ó Smith 18, Magette 13, Donovan 12, Baldwin 11, Boskovic 11, Campbell 10, Blasi 9, Chapman, Mack.
CATAWBA (77) ó Little 15, Moore 13, Gilmore 13, Knight 11, Martin 8, Thomson 8, Lovelace 7, Huntley 2, Tyree.
UAH 46 38 ó 84
Catawba 43 34 ó 77