ANDERSON, S.C. – With five players reaching double figures in the scoring column, the Anderson men's basketball team claimed its third straight South Atlantic Conference victory with a convincing, 81-64, win over Tusculum, Wednesday night at the Abney Athletic Center.
Anderson improved to 10-17 overall and 8-11 in league action, while clinching a berth in the conference tournament for the second straight season following a two-year absence. The Trojans also swept the season series with the Pioneers for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign. Tusculum fell to 6-20 and 4-15 with its fourth straight setback.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior center Rakish Taylor led the way on offense by posting his first double-double of the season with a season-high 17 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Randall Shaw also poured in 17 points, with sophomore guard Christian Jeffords adding 14 points. Juniors Gage Ellis and Jeremy Bouton each netted 11 points apiece, with senior guard Maurice Howard handing out a game-high eight assists and swiping a season-high four steals.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Trailing by two, 14-12, with just less than 14 minutes left in the first half, Jeffords sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a jumper by Bouton to fuel an 8-0 surge that gave the Trojans a lead they would not surrender. But the Pioneers chipped away at AU's advantage over the next four minutes and closed within 26-25 on a trey by Elon Smallwood at the 7:35 mark.
Taylor answered on the other end with a layup and a flurry of 3-pointers, first by Jeffords and then two treys from Shaw, capped a run of 11 unanswered points by the Black and Gold that gave them a double-digit, 37-25, cushion with 5:25 remaining in the half. Two minutes later, the Trojans pushed out to a 42-27 advantage on another 3-pointer from Shaw and AU held a 46-32 halftime advantage.
The Trojans steadily built their lead to 70-38 midway through the second half, with Tusculum closing within 17 in the final moments.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Trojans enter the final weekend of the regular season tied with Newberry and Coker for sixth place in the conference standings.
• The Trojans shot a season-high 90.9 percent from the charity stripe by going 10-of-11 from the line.
• The 17-point victory equaled AU's largest margin since knocking off Southern Wesleyan twice by identical margins.
• The Trojans outrebounded Tusculum, 41-36.
• AU outscored the Pioneers, 38-20, in the paint.
• Led by Maurice Howard's four steals, AU recorded 11 on the night – the second-highest tally of the season.
The Trojans wrap up the regular season by playing host to Coker on Senior Day. AU will be looking to earn a split the regular-season series after falling to the Cobras, 78-72, in mid-January. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday.