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The St. Catharine College Patriots streaked to big leads in both of the first two games of the season last week against opponents ranked in the top 10 of NAIA Division-II. But J.T. Burton’s squad was able to only hold onto the lead in one of those contests as the Patriots opened the new campaign with a 1-1 slate.
After letting a 14 point halftime lead slip away at No. 6 IU-Southeast on Wednesday, St. Catharine held off No. 8 Grace College in overtime Saturday in the home opener.
The Patriots are back in action Thursday with a game at Knoxville College. They open the Mid-South Conference season Saturday at Bluefield College in Virginia. Next Tuesday the conference home-opener brings Georgetown College to Lourdes Hall. The Tigers are currently 4-0 and ranked third in the nation.
The St. Catharine College Patriots played 45 minutes of basketball in Saturday’s home opener against Grace College from Indiana. And it was the five-minute overtime where Head Coach J.T. Burton said conditioning paid off his team’s 81-73 victory.
“Our six o’clock workouts made a difference,” said Burton, whose team evened its record at 1-1. “You could tell our guys were in shape.”
The overtime definitely belonged to the Patriots as they outscored the Lancers (1-1) 8-0. Dominique Roy opened the extra period with his only field goal of the game. Omar Skinner then dished a nice assist to DeShawn Mitchell and a Roy assist to Terrance Smotherman with 2:51 to play gave the Patriots a six-point lead. Roy completed the scoring with two free throws with 22 seconds left.
“We had more assists than turnovers and I can’t remember the last time that happened,” added Burton, whose team handed out 20 assists and committed 18 turnovers.
It didn’t appear that the game would need the extra period as the Patriots raced to a 13-1 lead at the outset and still led 42-29 at halftime. But the Lancers, ranked eighth nationally in NAIA Division II, began chipping away at the lead in the second period.
Grace eventually grabbed the lead 71-69 with 3:19 to play when Greg Miller hit two free throws. Smotherman tied the game with a short jumper at 2:20 and Marquis Lee’s monster dunk off a Roy assist put the Patriots ahead 73-71. Elliot Smith, who led all scorers with 20 points, tied the game with 1:11 to play and neither team could score again in the final minute.
The Patriots, who shot 48.5 percent from the field, placed four players in double figures, led by Mitchell’s 19 points. Smotherman added 17, on 8-11 from the field, and Lee and Kevin Kornegay each had 14 points.
The Lancers, who shot 40 percent for the game, had three players join Smith in double figures. Bruce Grimm had 17, Miller 13 and Tannan Peters 11.
“These guys just do everything I ask of them,” Burton said. “They pay attention in practice and when we are watching film. They continue to run the offense and they don’t take bad shots.”
A funny thing happened to the St. Catharine Patriots, who were on their way to an opening season win at Indiana University-Southeast. Actually, the Patriot staff saw it more disheartening than humorous as they watched a 34-20 halftime lead melt away to an 84-71 defeat.
“In one stretch they outscored us 29-7,” said Burton. “They made every free throw in that run and we were like 2-13.”
Free throws definitely played a huge part in the Grenadiers’ second half surge. They made 26 of 30 while the Patriots were 5-14 from the line. For the game, IU-Southeast was 32-40 from the charity stripe and St. Catharine was 8-20. The Patriots had five more field goals for the game than the Grenadiers, as they shot 42 percent (28-67) to the home team’s 38 percent (23-60).
IU-Southeast chipped away at the 14-point halftime deficit and eventually caught up when Kevin Mitchell drained a trey with 6:52 to play to make the score 58-58. Eighteen seconds later Mitchell hit a jumper and the Grenadiers pulled away from there for the 13-point victory.
Senior guard Marquis Lee led the Patriots in scoring with 22 points on 9-17 shooting from the field. DeShawn Mitchell added 10 points, but hit just four of 15 field goal attempts. Mitchell also led the St. Catharine rebounding effort with eight boards as both teams grabbed 41 rebounds.