College basketball: Catawba men roll past Eagles
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Catawba’s Jordan McElveen isn’t loud, isn’t flashy, isn’t as mind-boggling as some of his teammates , but he is surprisingly strong and ruthlessly efficient.
A 6-foot-4 senior who transferred from Davis & Elkins, McElveen is shooting 58 percent for the season for the Indians, mostly on physical drives and mid-range jumpers.
Lately, he’s picked it up even more. He’s 22-for-28 from the field in his last three outings — 79 percent . His recent surge included a 7-for-9 effort in Saturday afternoon’s 90-75 South Atlantic Conference victory at Goodman Gym against Carson-Newman.
“We ran sets that put me in good position, and I was able to get some easy finishes,” McElveen said.
Easy finishes for McElveen would not be easy finishes for most people, but he can power right through defenders and make shots despite contact.
Catawba basically settled the contest with a blistering 13-0 run. That decisive, three-minute run late in the first half included two hard-nosed layups by McElveen. Carson-Newman was very much in the game at 26-21. All of a sudden, it was 39-21, and the Eagles were out of it.
“We have good ‘spurtability,'” said Catawba coach Rob Perron, who logged his 100th career victory on Wednesday. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can score quickly and guys who can score in different ways. We had five in double figures again today. We’ve had four or five in a lot of our games lately.”
Catawba (19-5, 12-4) won its sixth game in a row. It was a pretty typical effort from a talented, deep team – 51.6 percent from the field, 78.9 percent from the line, nine 3-pointers and multiple guys taking turns filling it up. Catawba won the turnover battle (21-14) by enough to compensate for some solid work on the boards by the Eagles (13-11, 6-10). Catawba made only four turnovers in the first half — smooth basketball at a furious pace.
“We were moving the ball really well, so there were lots of open shots,” McElveen said. “We also played good defense most of the day. Our focus was trying to take away the 3-point line. Carson-Newman is good at shooting 3s.”
Guard Grant Teichmann made four 3-pointers and led the Eagles with 22 points.
Marcell Haskett, who is frequently mind-boggling, performed more of the magic Catawba fans have gotten used to. He launched a series of in-your-face, impossible bombs that located the bottom of the net and demoralized defenders. It was an unusually one-dimensional day for Haskett — one rebound, no assists in 31 minutes — but his jumpers were lethal. He shot 7-for-12, made four 3-pointers and scored 25.
McElveen produced a superb stat line with 16 points, eight rebounds, two steals, two assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes.
“The coaches push me to get 10 rebounds, and I was reminded at halftime that I only had three,” McElveen said. “I rebounded harder in the second half.”
Also in double figures were veterans Jameel Taylor (14 points), Malik Constantine (12) and Devin Cooper (10). Taylor had seven rebounds and three assists.
Catawba took a 16-6 lead on a 3-pointer by McElveen. He doesn’t shoot many of them, but Taylor spotted him wide open and he nailed it.
Shortly after that 13-0 run, free throws by D.J. Johnson put Catawba up 20 for the first time at 43-23. The Indians led 47-27 at the break.
Constantine provided the highlights during an 11-0 run early in the second half for a 71-40 lead, the largest of the day. Constantine battles injuries, but he’s enormously talented. He slammed alley-oops and soared for blocked shots, and he’s a guy who’s coming off the bench.
“Malik made some back-breaking plays,” Perron said. “He can do that.”
Catawba casually allowed that 31-point lead to diminish to 13 and Carson-Newman missed two layups that would’ve cut it to 11, but Catawba players never looked overly worried.
Even as the Carson-Newman bench chanted “De-fense! De-fense!” Haskett calmly buried one more contested jumper to push the lead back to 15. He shrugged and grinned.
“Yes, we need to learn to hold leads better, but it’s a still a good thing to have big leads to hold,” Perron said.
Next for the Indians is a trip to first-place Queens on Wednesday.
CARSON-NEWMAN (75) — Teichmann 22, Bates 14, Rogers 14, Role 9, Andre 6, Anderson 4, Coleman 3, Abraham 3, Holmes, Clayton.
CATAWBA (90) — Haskett 25, McElveen 16, Taylor 14, Constantine 12, Cooper 10, Johnson 4, McLaughlin 4, Whitfield 3, Phillips 2, Robinison, Barber, Jeffers, Zemonek.
Carson-Newman 27 48 — 75
Catawba 47 43 — 90
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