HICKORY, N.C. – Lenoir-Rhyne shot 57.4 percent from the field, as the Bears defeated Anderson, 80-73, in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action, Saturday afternoon at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.
Anderson (2-6, 0-1 SAC) which was playing its third game in five days, wrapped up its three-game road swing by dropping its second decision in three outings.
Lenoir-Rhyne (2-5, 1-2 SAC) has won two of its last three and improved to 2-1 at home on the season, while capturing its first league win of the campaign.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Four Trojans reached double figures in the setback, as junior guard Randall Shaw netted 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Senior guard Maurice Howard recorded 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while dishing out a team-high six assists and grabbing a team-high six rebounds. Junior forward Jeremy Bouton also scored 15 points, while junior guard Gage Ellis posted 12 points and pulled down four rebounds.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Early long-range accuracy and a tenacious defense lifted AU to an 11-point lead inside the first eight minutes of action, but the Trojans lost their shooting touch late in the half, enabling Lenoir-Rhyne to claim a six-point halftime advantage.
Howard split the Lenoir-Rhyne zone for a driving layup in the opening moments, then Shaw sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a trey by the Bears to boost AU's lead to 8-3 with 17:27 on the clock. Following back-to-back jumpers that trimmed the Trojan edge to just one, Ellis scored three straight to ignite a 10-0 surge, with Howard netting a 3-pointer and Shaw dropping in a layup to fuel the run. Ellis capped the outburst with a pair of free throws to give the Trojans an 18-7 cushion with 12:25 left in the half.
The Bears countered with five straight points before freshman Josh Livingston nailed a 3-pointer to slow the L-R rally, but R.J. Gunn offset the trey with one of his two triples on the afternoon for the Bears and they whittled the AU lead to 21-17 behind a 10-2 run.
Bouton then found Livingston for a dunk, as the Trojans beat the press and Christian Jeffords dropped in a jumper from the right baseline to rebuild the Trojans' lead back to 25-17 at the 7:19 mark.
The Trojans then lost their shooting touch and went just 2-for-8 from the field and committed three turnovers in the final seven minutes of the half, enabling Lenoir-Rhyne to close the half on a 19-5 run and claim a 36-30 edge at intermission.
After the Bears opened the second-half scoring, Shaw posted an old-fashioned three-point play, while Ellis and Rakish Taylor each added baskets to pull AU within 38-37 with more than 17 minutes left in the game.
Lenoir-Rhyne responded with five straight points, while Howard and Shaw answered with a driving layup and a 3-pointer, respectively to again draw the Trojans within a single point. But it was as close as AU would get the rest of the way, as Lenoir-Rhyne withstood each challenge.
The Bears pushed out to an eight-point, 55-47, advantage with 11:09 remaining and held at least a six-point lead until the 3:20 mark when Gunn was whistled for a foul and then a technical foul. Bouton and Andrew Boynton connected on four straight free throws and Howard dropped in a layup with less than two minutes remaining to trim L-R's lead to just 70-68.
With the Trojans forced to foul, Lenoir-Rhyne was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line in the final 90 seconds to seal the win.
• The Trojans are now 5-3 in league openers since joining the SAC for the 2010-11 campaign, including a 1-2 record against the Bears in conference-opening games.
• AU lost the rebounding battle, 29-20.
• Andrew Boynton is a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe on the season.
Anderson opens a three-game conference homestand when Carson-Newman invades the Abney Athletic Center for a Wednesday night matchup. Tip-off versus the Eagles is slated for 8 p.m.
The contest marks Carson-Newman's second appearance in the Electric City this season after collecting a pair of wins in the Conference Challenge in mid-November.