Hot-Shooting Bears Prove to Be Too Much for Trojans

Hot-Shooting Bears Prove to Be Too Much for Trojans

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.

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.

First Half
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.

Second Half
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.