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Men’s Basketball: Morrison scores 29 in Catawba win

Staff report

HICKORY — “Efficiency” is the buzz-word in the Catawba’s men’s basketball camp, and so far junior Jerrin Morrison has been awfully efficient.
Morrison scored 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting to lead Saturday’s 98-91 win against UNC Pembroke, 24 hours after shooting 8-for-14 for 17 points in an opening-night victory against Francis Marion. Both games were played in Lenoir-Rhyne’s Shuford Gym in the South Atlantic Conference/Peach Belt Conference Challenge.
It’s only a two-game sample, but Morrison, a 38.9-percent shooter a year ago, is checking in at 61.3 percent on the young season.
“The emphasis has been on Jerrin scoring with a minimum of dribbling, and he’s really bought into that,” Catawba coach Rob Perron said. “Another thing is his defense has improved. He’s getting some easy scores off his defense.”
Junior Jameel Taylor had five assists and scored 21 points for the Indians with the aid of 9-for-9 foul shooting. He’s scored 20-plus points in both games so far. That isn’t a surprise. He was a preseason first team All-SAC pick.
Senior guard Rakeen “Rock” Brown added 13 points for the Indians (2-0).
Catawba didn’t launch a lot of 3-pointers against the Braves, shooting 6-for-13. The Braves fired 28 3-pointers.
The Indians were a highly efficient 56.4 percent from the field for the game and shot 59.3 percent in the second half. They also shot 30-for-39 from the foul line (77 percent), and free throws often were an issue last season.
“Our guys have gotten better at a lot of things,” Perron said. “Better defensively, better at playing off each other, better at making the right pass and setting each other up.”
Gilbert McGregor, a transfer from Wake Forest, turned in another strong game, shooting 4-for-4 from the floor.
Perron said sophomore guard Jordan Barber and 6-9 senior Troy Warren played better than their stat sheet.
“We’ve started Jordan the first two games, and he’s been flying around, giving us a lot of energy,” Perron said. “Troy’s done a good of carving out space for himself. He’s helped open up driving lanes for guys.”
Warren went 6-for-6 from the foul line.
Despite its hot shooting, Catawba led only 42-40 at halftime.
Two free throws by Morrison gave the Indians the lead for good at 52-51 with 13:55 remaining. A 3-pointer by Taylor with 7:01 remaining pushed the lead to double digits. Morrison’s dunk extended the lead to 11 points with 6:14 remaining.
The Indians salted the game away by going 9-of-12 on free throws down the stretch.
The most telling stat for Catawba was rebounding because Perron considers UNC Pembroke to be one of the most athletic teams the Indians will face.
“They’re long, they’re rangy, and they kill people on the offensive board,” Perron said. “A lot of times their best play is a missed shot.”
But Catawba won on the glass, 37-34. A big part of that was K.J. Arrington pulling down nine boards in 20 minutes.
“I’m not going to say we had a superior game on the boards, but we were very good,” Perron said.
Catawba has some injury concerns already, as Arrington, a senior who missed all of last season, has a torn meniscus. He plans to play on, rather than miss a minimum of eight weeks with surgery.
“He’s a warrior,” Perron said. “We’ve just got to be very careful with his minutes.”
Malik Constantine, a 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman, also will be out for at least a few weeks. Both players were hurt in a scrimmage before the team headed for an exhibition game at Maryland.
James Murray-Boyles scored 20 points off the bench for the Braves (1-1), who beat Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday. Alex Bradley had 16 points with Nigel Grant adding 15 and Carson Mounce 12.
Catawba opens SAC play early on Wednesday as the Indians host Lenoir-Rhyne at 7 p.m. The Catawba women won’t be playing that night.

UNC PEMBROKE (91)
Murray-Boyles 20, Bradley 16, Grant 15, Mounce 12, Evans 8, Pruitt 7, Watts 6, Smith 5, Kinsey 2.
CATAWBA (98)
Morrison 29, Taylor 21, Brown 13, McGregor 8, Warren 8, Sealey 6, Arrington 5, McLaughlin 4, Barber 2, Ingram 2.

UNC Pembroke    40     51 — 91
Catawba                 42    56 — 98

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