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Men’s Basketball: Catawba loses again, this time to Anderson

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Nothing disappears more quickly around college students than pizza, but a steaming Domino’s delivery cooled for 15 minutes on Saturday as Catawba head basketball coach Rob Perron held a heart-to-heart session with his team.

Perron is an unfailingly upbeat, patient guy but Catawba’s 73-67 loss on Anderson was frustrating enough that his raised voice could be heard in the hallways beneath Goodman Gym. Maybe it was heard out on West Innes Street.

“We just didn’t play with the confidence we were playing with earlier this season,” Perron said.

This was Catawba’s second straight home loss to a team the Indians already had beaten on the road, albeit in tight ballgames. This also was Catawba’s second straight home loss to a team that had fewer horses.

A week ago, Catawba was 10-6 in the South Atlantic Conference, riding a six-game winning streak and seemingly rolling toward a top-four finish. Now the Indians (16-8 overall) are 10-8 in the league and stumbling toward the finish line. Three of the Indians’ final four games are against Queens, Lincoln Memorial and Wingate. Those are the SAC’s three strongest teams.

“No one’s going to feel sorry for us, so we’ve got to fix this ourselves,” Perron said. “The toughest part of the season is coming up. But we can embrace it as an opportunity, not a curse.”

Jerrin Morrison played with verve on Saturday, producing 18 points and seven rebounds. Troy Warren battled foul trouble but contributed 11 points and eight rebounds before being disqualified with 1:55 remaining. Jameel Taylor’s 14-point day was misleading. He made 10 free throws, mostly at the end. His shots weren’t dropping. K.J. Arrington had seven assists — some downright magical — but his shooting slump continued. He was 1-for-8, mostly in the paint.

With 2:20 left and Catawba down 65-59, Taylor had a wide-open 3-point look that rimmed in and out. When Morrison missed a straight-on 10-footer with 40 seconds left and Catawba trailing 67-63, the Indians were forced into a chase-and-foul mode, and Anderson (11-13, 9-9 SAC) was solid  at the foul line down the stretch.

“Jameel and K.J. shot 3-for-16 from the field, and it’s hard for us to win when that happens,” Perron said. “But I’d still blame this one on the defensive end. That’s where we didn’t get it done, especially in the second half when we were defending on the other end of the floor, away from our bench.”

Catawba shot 1-for-9 from the 3-point line. That’s bad, but at least the Indians weren’t firing away. They understand they’re a driving team, not a bunch of bombers.

Anderson shot 52 percent for the game and 63.2 percent (12-for-19) in the second half. The Trojans rarely had to take a jump shot. Their damage was done by hard-driving layups by Randall Shaw, Maurice Howard and Lex Davis or post-ups by 6-foot-7, 285-pound left-hander Charles Dotson.

“Catawba is really talented, and a lot of the time we were playing really small out there,” said young Anderson coach Jeff Brookman. “Hats off to our guys for piecing this one together and finding a way to get a good road win. No road win in this league is easy.”

Anderson played a lot of zone. Catawba took a lot of contested 2s and shot only 39.3 percent. Catawba stayed in the game because it won the battle on the glass, as it almost always does, and because it made 18 of 23 free throws.

Davis came off the bench to provide a major spark for Anderson in the first half. He was the X-factor, scoring 14 points. He was averaging 4.

“He had more bounce than usual for some reason,” Brooker said. “And he was taking it to the rim.”

Shaw, the SAC’s leading scorer, got 21 points. That’s what he averages. Taylor spent a lot of his energy chasing Shaw around.

Catawba trailed almost all of the second half. The Indians got even at 52-all  when Taylor made two free throws with 10 minutes left, but Anderson scored on its next two possessions, and Catawba never got even again.

“It was like we were down two to six points the whole second half,” Perron said. “We just couldn’t break through that barrier. We couldn’t make shots, so we couldn’t put any pressure on them. We never had a run. We were never able to capture any momentum.”

No one watching Anderson warm up would’ve picked them to beat a Catawba team that is deep, athletic and rebounds like crazy, but that’s why they play the games.

“When it rains, it pours,” Perron said. “I can only guarantee one thing. We’ll have a good practice on Monday.”

ANDERSON (73) —Shaw 21, Dotson 15, Davis 14, Howard 12, Benard 6, Boynton 3, Prandy 2, Jeffords, Musselwhite.

CATAWBA (67) — Morrison 18, Taylor 14, Warren 11, Constantine 5, Arrington 5, Brown 4, McGregor 4, Sealey 2, Ingram 2, McLaughlin 2, Robinson.

Anderson            36    37 — 73

Catawba               33    34 — 67

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