CENTRAL, S.C. – Led by senior Gage Ellis' game-high 24 points, the Anderson men's basketball team bounced back to earn its first win of the young season by overwhelming Southern Wesleyan, 85-62, Saturday afternoon in the finale of the SWU Tip-off Classic, hosted by the Warriors at Historic Tysinger Gymnasium.
Anderson improved to 1-1 on the season, with its fourth straight win over the Warriors, while Southern Wesleyan fell to 0-2 with its second consecutive setback.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Ellis also pulled down six rebounds and handed out three assists, while going 10-of-14 from the field. Sophomore forward Josh Livingston added 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed seven boards, while junior guard Shawn Benard narrowly missed his second straight double-double with 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds. The Mobile, Ala., native also dished out three assists. Newcomer Kevin Simpson notched 11 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans used an early 8-2 run to jump out to a 10-3 lead less than three minutes into the game and connected on 5-of-7 (71.4%) field goal attempts in the early going, with Ellis keying the early surge.
But the Warriors responded by posting an 8-2 run of their own over the next three minutes and pulled within 12-11 with just more than 14 minutes on the clock. Benard slowed SWU's comeback with a driving left-handed layup, while sparking six unanswered as part of yet another 8-2 run by the Black and Gold as they claimed a 21-13 advantage at the 11:17 mark.
After SWU cut the Trojans' lead to five (23-18), Simpson drained a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner for his first trey of his career wearing the Black and Gold and boosted the Trojans' lead back to eight.
Following a pair of free throws by the Warriors and 1-of-2 from the charity stripe by Shaw, the Greenville, S.C., native connected on a 3-pointer from the right side to give AU a double-digit, 30-20, lead with 7:30 left in the opening stanza.
The Warriors stayed within striking distance with six unanswered points, before AU eased out to a 43-31 cushion on Benard's traditional three-point play with seconds remaining and held a 43-34 lead at the half.
The Trojans came up empty in their first two possessions and enabled SWU to cut into their lead behind four straight to open second half. But three quick baskets by AU more than offset the slow start and the Trojans rebuilt a 49-38 advantage with just under 17 minutes left in the contest.
The Warriors got within nine moments later, but would get no closer as AU led by 15 midway through the final half and closed the game with a 17-5 run over the final seven minutes.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE DAY
The Trojans shot 55.0 percent from the field.
• AU dominated the rebounding battle, 38-24 and pulled down 10 offensive rebounds.
• The Trojans led the entire way.
• The Trojans outscored SWU, 44-10, in the paint.
• AU scored 14 second-chance points.
• The Trojans have won four straight over Southern Wesleyan.
Anderson will be seeking its second win of the young season when the Trojans wrap up their season-opening three-game road swing by traveling to Conference Carolinas-foe Limestone on Wednesday. Tip-off versus the Saints in Gaffney, S.C., is slated for 7:30 p.m.