The St. Catharine College Patriots, still without some key players who will gain eligibility later this week, were in danger of starting the Mid-South Conference season 0-4 when they played two nationally-ranked teams at home last week in Campbellsville (receiving votes) and Lindsey Wilson (No. 11).
That winless start looked even more possible Thursday when the Patriots fell behind Campbellsville by 14 points before rallying for the win. But the comeback fell short Saturday against Lindsey Wilson, as J.T. Burton’s squad fell to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
St. Catharine now will take an extended break in the conference schedule as they will not get back to MSC play until Jan. 3. The Patriots will, however, play three more non-conference contests before the Christmas break, all at home. Thursday they take on Knoxville College at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Morthland College visits for a 4 p.m. game and next Tuesday IU-Southeast is in Lourdes Hall for a game starting at noon.
Things did not look good for the home team Thursday when the Campbellsville Tigers scored the first four points of the second half to lead St. Catharine 42-28. But the Patriots, behind the clutch shooting of Marquis Lee, became Tiger tamers with a second-half surge that netted them a key 69-65 Mid-South Conference victory.
From that 14-point deficit, the Patriots (4-3, 1-2) mounted a comeback that eventually gave them the lead with 9:50 to play when Lee hit one of his seven treys for the night to make the score 52-50. But the visiting Tigers (6-2, 2-2) clawed back to regain the lead at 60-55 with 4:44 remaining.
Then Lee, the senior guard from Detroit who ended the game with 29 points, again took charge. Lee canned a three-pointer to cut the lead to two points, and following a Campbellsville turnover, he struck again from long range to make the score 61-60 at the 2:58 mark and the Patriots never trailed again.
Lee’s final trey of the night made the score 64-60 with 57 seconds left. The Tigers did cut the lead to two points twice in the final minute but the Patriots made five of six free throws (Nick Porter 2-2 and Omar Skinner 3-4) in the final seconds to ice the victory.
While Lee was 7-14 from behind the arc, the rest of the Patriots were not as proficient, as St. Catharine ended the game 10-32 (31 percent) from three-point range. Overall they shot 41 percent (24-59) from the field and 61 percent (11-18) from the foul line.
Campbellsville shot 49 percent (26-53) overall and was 5-13 (38.5 percent) on three-point attempts. The Tigers were 8-15 (53 percent) from the foul line. The visitors won the rebounding battle 35-30, led by Jordan Myers’ 13 boards.
Skinner joined Lee in double figures as he notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Malik Thomas and Vernon Payne led the Tigers in scoring with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
The game started well enough for the Patriots when they led the Blue Raiders 26-25 with eight minutes to play in the first half, but the home team got only one basket the remainder of the half and went to the locker room trailing 42-29 en route to a 77-68 setback.
Lindsey Wilson (9-1, 4-1), the defending conference champion, never saw that lead dip under eight points in the final 20 minutes as they coasted to the nine-point victory.
“We didn’t score for over eight minutes in that first-half run and that was the story of the game,” said Burton. “We knew second-chance points could hurt us and they sure did. At many times we didn’t have a player over 6-3 on the court.”
Both teams hit the offensive glass hard, as the Blue Raiders grabbed 15 offensive rebounds while the Patriots had 17. Burton quickly pointed out a big difference in what the teams did with those rebounds. “I bet they had 20 second-chance points and we didn’t take advantage at all when we got offensive rebounds,” he said.
The same would be true when it came to turnovers. The Blue Raiders coughed the ball up 21 times while the Patriots lost the rock just 15 times. But Lindsey Wilson seemed to score off every St. Catharine turnover, while the Patriots weren’t able to cut into the lead when they gained a turnover.
The Blue Raiders shot 50 percent (28-56) for the game and the Patriots were 26-63 for 41 percent. Lindsey Wilson was 7-15 from three-point range and 14-19 at the foul line. St. Catharine made 10 of 23 from behind the arc and sank six of 13 free throw attempts.
DeShawn Mitchell led St. Catharine with 26 points while also hauling in nine rebounds. Marquis Lee had 16 points while Omar Skinner had eight points and 10 rebounds. DeAntra Scott paced the Blue Raiders with 27 points and 11 rebounds.