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The St. Catharine College Patriots again had a week of close conference games – but no victories to show for their efforts. Thursday at West Virginia Tech, J.T. Burton’s team fell 67-61 to the Bears. Saturday, in the final home game of the season, the Patriots dropped a 78-71 decision to Pikeville.
“The main problem we have is on defense,” said Burton after his team fell to 5-21 overall and 1-8 in the Mid-South Conference. “From the bleachers it looks like we are playing hard, and we are giving pretty good effort, but we are not moving our feet on defense. We are committing too many fouls by reaching when we are out of position.”
At West Virginia Tech (18-7, 4-2) the Patriots trailed just 27-26 at halftime despite shooting only 27 percent from the field. But the Golden Bears made regular trips to the foul line in the second half to hold on to the lead. Tech shot 31 free throws after intermission and made 21 of them. For the game they were 26-38 from the charity stripe while the Patriots were 11- 21 for the game.
“That isn’t saying the refs did a bad job, “added Burton, “but we just get tired and commit fouls. You can’t let good teams have that many free throws and expect to win.”
The Patriots continued to get strong performances from juniors Arthur Latham, and Kevin Owens, who scored 28 and 11 points respectively. Owens also added a game-high 12 rebounds, but the Patriots were beaten 36-28 on the boards by the much larger Tech team.
On Saturday the Patriots grabbed a 48-43 halftime lead over Pikeville (18-8, 6-3) but again faltered in the second half in absorbing the 85-77 setback. Turnovers were a key in the loss as St. Catharine committed 21 of them.
“That is our problem,” Burton said. “We will commit a foul on one end and then come up with an empty possession on the other end.”
Again, Latham had few empty possessions as the 6-7 forward shot 50 percent from the field, including 3-4 from 3-point range, in scoring a game-high 35 points. Latham added 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Brandon Johnson had 16 points to join Latham in double figures.
But the Patriots couldn’t contain Pikeville guard Justin Hicks who scored 24 points. Josh Samarco, the second leading scorer in the conference, got his season average of 20 points.
St. Catharine will play the final three games of the year on the road. Saturday the Patriots are at Campbellsville. On Feb. 26 they travel to Georgetown and on the 28th they finish the season at Lindsey Wilson.