SALISBURY, N.C. – Trailing by a dozen with less than four minutes on the clock, the Anderson men's basketball team mounted a furious last-minute rally but came up just shy, as the Trojans wrapped up their regular-season slate with a 75-72 loss to Catawba, in South Atlantic Conference action, Saturday afternoon at Goodman Gym.
Anderson (16-12, 10-10 SAC) saw its win streak halted at three games, while Catawba improved to 21-7 overall and 14-6 in league action with its second straight win and improved to 12-2 at home this season.
The Trojans and Indians will square off for the second time in four days on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the SAC Tournament.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior forward Jeremy Bouton netted a team-high 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while senior guard Randall Shaw added 16 points. Senior guard Gage Ellis tossed in 14 points and grabbed eight boards, with junior guard Shawn Benard chipping in 10 points and dishing out a game-high six assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans snapped the second deadlock of the afternoon (21-21), with an 8-3 spurt to equal their largest lead of the game, at 29-24, with 3:53 remaining in the first half. But Catawba countered with 12 unanswered points over the final moments of the half, before senior Andrew Boynton closed the first half by draining a 3-pointer to set the halftime score at 36-32 in favor of the Indians.
After Catawba opened the second frame by opening an eight-point, 44-38, advantage, the Trojans answered by going on a 12-4 run that was capped by back-to-back treys by Shaw and a free throw by Ellis with 13:34 remaining that gave AU its first lead since the 3:37 mark of the opening half.
But Catawba responded by building a pair of 12-point leads, with the second one at 73-61 with 4:19 on the clock. Ellis followed 35 seconds later with his first 3-pointer of the afternoon to spark an 11-1 rally by the Black and Gold. After the Indians' Malik Constantine connected on 1-of-2 from the free throw line, Benard dropped in a layup and Shaw followed with a free throw to pull AU within 74-67 with more than two minutes on the clock.
After forcing a turnover, Bouton nailed his third trey and Ellis followed with a jumper to cap the surge and get the Trojans within a deuce with 1:34 remaining. Neither team was able to capitalize on opportunities inside the final minute, and with AU forced to foul in the final moments, the Trojans sent Catawba's Jameel Taylor to the line with 10 seconds left. The first free throw rolled around the rim before falling in, but the second bounced off the rim to give the Trojans new life. But AU was unable to get a clear look at the basket and was whistled for a foul during a mad scramble. Catawba's Jeremy McLaughlin missed the ensuing free throw and the Trojans' heave from three-quarters of the court was off the mark at the buzzer.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE DAY
The Trojans forced Catawba into 12 turnovers.
• The two teams battled to a draw on the boards, with each team recording 38 rebounds.
• The game featured 12 lead changes and four ties.
The Trojans will be making their third straight appearance in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament and their seventh appearance in the postseason since joining the SAC for the 2010-11 campaign. AU will return to Salisbury, N.C., Wednesday night for the first round of the SAC Tournament. Tip-off versus the Indians is set for 7 p.m.
The Conference Championship schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, March 6 (at Highest Seeds)
Game 1: #1 Queens vs. #8 Carson-Newman, 7:00 p.m.
Game 2: #4 Tusculum vs. #5 Lenoir-Rhyne, 7:00 p.m.
Game 3: #2 Catawba vs. #7 Anderson, 7:00 p.m.
Game 4: #3 Lincoln Memorial vs. #6 Wingate, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 (Timmons Arena, Greenville, S.C.)
Game 5: winner game 1 vs. winner game 2, 5:00 p.m.
Game 6: winner game 3 vs. winner game 4, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 10 (Timmons Arena, Greenville, S.C.)
Game 7: winner game 5 vs. winner game 6, 4:00 p.m.