College basketball: Hot-shooting Catawba men roll again

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2018

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Catawba newcomers Daquan Lilly, Terrence Whitfield and Marcell Haskett didn’t just combine to score 65 points on Monday night at Goodman Gym, they shot 23-for-27 from the field.

That rapid rate of net-swishing is going to beat just about anybody, and Catawba blew out Bluefield State’s Big Blues, 111-86.

“We had to try to manufacture points last season, and we had guys on the floor that teams could dare to shoot the ball,” Catawba head coach Rob Perron said. “Now we’re shooting a lot better, especially shooting better from 3. We’ve got four or five guys who can make four 3s in a game. That creates a lot of space, a lot of driving lanes for us.”

Catawba was 2-3 after five games last season. This time the Indians are 4-1. Much deeper and much better shooters.

The 6-foot-6 Lilly, who has a powerful football-ish body, scored 27 points on 11-for-13 accuracy. He was highly touted when he arrived as a junior college transfer last season. He was knocked out by back surgery.

“He probably lost a little bit of athleticism with the back, but he made up for with the time he spent in the weight room,” Perron said. “He’s just so strong. There are going to be favorable matchups where he scores like this.”

Whitfield, a freshman from Massanutten Military Academy, was recruited as a defensive stopper, but he displayed surprising firepower with 7-for-8 shooting and 20 points. He was 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.

Hassett, a junior college transfer, was expected to score in flurries, and that’s what he’s done several times in the early going. He scored an efficient 18 on 5-for-6 shooting.

Senior Jameel Taylor, who missed last season with injury, played limited minutes in the romp, but he had five assists. He’s second in the South Atlantic Conference in that category. Devin Cooper, another newcomer, a transfer from Radford, scored 12. Freshman Ben Bowen (6-foot-10) added eight points in nine minutes.

Catawba was up 51-36 at halftime and led by as many as 37 points in the second half.

Sharing the ball led to sizzling shooting — 58 percent from the floor and 10-for-16 on 3-pointers, plus 21-for-25 on free throws.

The rebounding and defense weren’t as good as they have been in previous games, but a lopsided scoreboard had something to do with that.

“We relaxed a little bit,” Perron said.

Marcus Neal scored 21 for Bluefield State (3-4), while Korey Williams had 20.

Catawba players returned from the Thanksgiving break on Friday, practiced twice on Saturday and had a practice on Sunday that Perron described as “spirited.”

Catawba played without Malik Constantine, but Perron hopes to have him back later this week.

The Indians head into league action now. They’ll play at Newberry, always a hectic opponent, on Wednesday night and will host Tusculum on Saturday at 4 p.m.

 

BLUEFIELD STATE (86) — Neal 21, Williams 20, Henry 12, Purnell 8, Adevmo 7, Jackson 5, Ezeagabu 4, Moreland 3, Brown 2, Melton 2, Anyanwu 2.

CATAWBA (111) — Lilly 27, Whitfield 20, Haskett 18, Cooper 12, Bowen 8, McLaughlin 6, Zemonek 5, Taylor 5, Phillips 3, LaChance 2, Barber 2, Robinson 2, Johnson 1, Cannon, McElveen, Jeffers, Curry.

Bluefield State   36   50   — 86

Catawba              51    60  — 111

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