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J.T. Burton had a built-in excuse for the way his team started Monday’s game at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. The Patriots had not played a game in 17 days, and it showed in their lethargic start en route to a 73-55 loss to the #21 Bulldogs.
But Burton, whose team fell to 2-13, wouldn’t use the layoff as a factor in the loss. “No, we just didn’t play defense like we need to in order to win games,” he said. “We can’t let teams come out and shoot 57 percent and expect to win.”
Cumberland (11-1) bolted to an early 17-5 lead. They led 43-21 at intermission behind 59 percent shooting that included 7-11 on three-point attempts. Meanwhile, the Patriots shot 23 percent in the first half and made only one of six shots from behind the arc. For the game St. Catharine was 14-35 (33 percent) from the field and 1-9 (13 percent) from three-point range.
“When your top three scorers are a combined 16 for 47 you are in trouble,” added Burton.
Arthur Latham led the Patriots with 24 points and also grabbed a team high six rebounds. Brandon Johnson added 11 points and Thomas Malone had nine.
St. Catharine did outscore the Bulldogs 34-30 in the second half, which left room for optimism. “The effort is there but we have to execute better,” said Burton. We had 12 turnovers and just two assists.”