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The St. Catharine Patriots were unable to defeat top-seeded Pikeville (Ky.) in the Mid-South Conference tournament this past week, despite a furious rally by the Patriots.
The 78-69 semifinal loss ended SCC’s bid for the conference tournament championship.
The No. 2-ranked Bears would then go on to to Sunday’s title game to soundly defeat second-seeded Georgetown (Ky.).
Pikeville (29-2) used a 12-0 run midway through the second half to presumably put away a pesky St. Catharine squad. At the end of the run, the Bears led 65-48 with 6:33 left in the game.
But St. Catharine refused to go away.
The Patriots (18-12) mounted a comeback that nearly erased the entire 17-point deficit.
Over the next 4:39, St. Catharine methodically chipped away at the regular season champions’ lead with an 18-4 run.
Omar Skinner scored 10 of his game-high 25 points during the run to get the Patriots within three (69-66) with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
SCC’s run was stymied by the Bears after they went on to score the next five points to put the Patriots in a 74-66 hole with only 25 seconds remaining.
Pikeville sealed the game with four free throws down the stretch to ice the game and send the Bears to their 15th straight win.
Four Bears scored in double figures, led by Chris Cantino’s 19 points. He added 10 rebounds for the double-double.
SCC”s William Tolefree chipped in 15 points while Raymon Austin scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Patriots in the loss.
The Patriot offense was limited to just 1-for-12 shooting from 3-point range and was forced into 13 turnovers.
St. Catharine managed to keep the game close in the first half thanks to its defense and rebounding.
Despite not turning the Bears over in the first 20 minutes, they held Pikeville — who entered as the sixth best field goal percentage team in the NAIA shooting 50 percent — to just 38.9 percent (14-of-36) from the field. The Patriots also held a 29-17 rebounding edge in the half.
St. Catharine — who was receiving votes in the final regular season top 25 poll — must now wait to see if they will receive one of the national tournament at-large bids. The 32-team field will be announced later today.
SCC Sports Information
After falling in the first round of the conference tournament for the past two seasons, the St. Catharine Patriots (18-11) returned to their winning ways in convincing fashion as they dominated the Rio Grande Red Storm (16-14) 91-74 on Thursday.
The Mid-South Conference tournament has not always been the friendliest of places for the St. Catharine College Patriots, but last week was a different story.
During the regular season, the Patriots split the series with the Rio Grande Red Storm, with both teams getting wins on their home floor.
Coming into Thursday night’s first-round contest, the Red Storm had dropped six straight contests with one of those coming at the hands of the Patriots on February 15 in a 78-63 thrashing in Lourdes Hall.
Unfortunately for the Red Storm, Thursday would hold a similar fate.
The Patriots would fall behind 2-0 after the first possession but took a 3-2 lead off of a three-point play from Raymon Austin (Cleveland, Ohio) and never looked back.
The Patriots dominated the first half, pulling ahead by as many as 12 before taking a 41-35 advantage into the break.
When the second half tipped off, the Patriots didn’t miss a beat as they pulled out to a 15-point advantage that was capped off by an Austin layup.
Seconds later, Franklin pushed the Patriot lead to 16 when he tickled the twine from behind the arc off of a jump pass from Julito Hutchinson (Atlanta, Ga.).
With 5:45 remaining, the Red Storm would cut the lead to nine, but Chris Johnson (Bowling Green) would stop the run in its tracks when he cut to the basket and earned a trip to the free-throw line.
With just over a minute remaining and the Red Storm trying to extend the contest, Omar Skinner (New Castle, Del.) would seal the deal with a rim-rocking dunk, propelling the Patriots to a 91-74 victory.
The Patriots were led by Chris Johnson with 20 points on offense, while Omar Skinner forced five turnovers on steals and contributed 16 points and six assists.