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College Basketball: Catawba men struggle, now 0-4 in SAC

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Anderson guard Maurice Howard put up a shot that trampolined off the rim several feet and then fell right back through the cords for three huge points.

It was that kind of Saturday for Catawba’s men’s basketball team. The Indians appeared to have superior talent — longer, faster, springier guys — but Anderson got the bounces and the South Atlantic Conference victory, 76-67.

“The thing is we always look at four key stats, and that’s rebounding, transition points, turnovers and field-goal percentage,” Catawba coach Rob Perron said. “We won three of those four categories today, and when that happens, we’re going to win 80 percent of the time. But the one key stat we lost was field-goal percentage. Anderson shot the ball better than we did. They especially shot it better from the 3-point line.”

Anderson actually shot better on 3-point field goals (39.3 percent) than 2-point field goals (37 percent). The Trojans (4-8, 2-3 SAC) outscored the Indians 33-9 from the 3-point line. That’s been a recurring theme in SAC games so far this season, and such a disparity is difficult to overcome.

Catawba fell to 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the SAC. Even with a 20-game league schedule the hole is starting to get deep. Catawba was picked fourth in the 11-team league in the preseason poll. Home losses to Tusculum and Anderson weren’t expected.

“We’re in a rut and we’ve got to work our way out of it,” Perron said. “We’ve got to stick with the process and pick ourselves up by the bootstraps.”

Jameel Taylor, who is from Anderson, S.C., did his best to pick up Catawba against his hometown school. The senior played all but 20 seconds of the contest and scored 26. He was 10-for-10 from the foul line. Unfortunately, Indians not named Jameel went 10-for-20 from the charity stripe.

While Catawba shot a dismal 34.4 percent from the field, it was hard to fault the shot selection.

“We attacked a lot, got to the rim a lot, and we got to the right spots a lot,” Perron said. “We just didn’t make contested layups. We didn’t finish plays.”

Malik Constantine got two quick fouls and sat down. He’s an important guy, so the Indians felt good about being down only 37-32 at halftime.

Constantine produced a coast-to-coast rebound and layup combination early in the second half that energized the Indians, and when Constantine buried a transition 3-pointer off a nice pass by T.J. Jeffers, the Indians owned an 11-2 run. They had inched in front, 49-48, with 11:31 remaining.

That was the key juncture. Catawba appeared to be taking control, but Anderson didn’t fold. Gage Ellis, who made timely shots all day, hit a 3-pointer to put Anderson back on top. Jeremy Bouton rebounded a pointblank Catawba miss and then made a jumper on the other end. Then Howard’s 3-ball took a magical bounce, and the visitors led by six and were on their way to the winner’s circle.

“Catawba has talented players and we knew at some point Catawba was going to start making shots,” Anderson coach Jeff Brookman said. “But when they did, we kept our composure. We made shots. We got stops.”

Anderson wouldn’t lose the lead again. Freshman Josh Livingston got key rebounds. Ellis made key plays. The Trojans extended their advantage to 72-62 on two free throws by Bouton with 28 seconds left.

“We did a good job of slowing the tempo and just running our offense,” said Bouton, a 6-foot-6 junior.

Catawba still had hope for a major miracle after Jeffers made a 3-pointer. Then he swiped a pass that led to a pair of Taylor free throws that made it a 72-67  game with 17 seconds left.

But Anderson didn’t blink. Howard made four straight free throws to ice the game.

It was the second straight SAC victory for Anderson. The Trojans won despite getting only six points from its usual leading scorer, Randall Shaw.

Catawba’s Jerrin Morrison entered the day as the SAC’s leading scorer but was held to 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting.

“When you play Catawba you’re concerned with their rebounding ability, especially the rebounding by those big, strong senior guards (Morrison and Taylor),” Brookman said. “They’re hard to match up with. I’m glad we’ll only see them one more time.”

Catawba’s next outing is an Education Day Tuesday matinee at home against Wingate.

Anderson 76, Catawba 67

ANDERSON (4-8) — Bouton 19, Ellis 19, Boynton 11, Howard 10, Livingston 6, Shaw 6, Jeffords 3, Taylor 2, Musselwhite, Rochez, Jeffries.

CATAWBA (3-6) — Taylor 26, Morrison 10, Jeffers 8, McLaughlin 7, Johnson 6, Robinson 5, Constantine 5, Lentz, Phillips, McRae.

Anderson      37   39   — 76

Catawba       32    35 — 67

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