The St. Catharine College men’s basketball team journeyed into Ohio last week and cracked the Buckeye State for two Mid-South Conference victories. The Patriots won at Rio Grande 69-66 Thursday and followed that with an 80-72 victory Saturday at No. 24 Shawnee State in Portsmouth.
The two victories allowed the Patriots (8-10, 4-8) to climb into an eighth place tie with Cumberland University in the conference. They will play No. 25 University of the Cumberlands (17-5, 8-4) at 6 p.m. Thursday and Cumberland University (8-12, 4-8) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
For brevity’s sake, some broadcasters have referred to the St. Catharine College Patriots simply as St. Cat. And that seemed appropriate Thursday when J.T. Burton’s team had about nine lives in winning 69-66 in a Mid-South Conference game at Rio Grande.
The Cats, uh Patriots, took the lead for good with 4:41 to play when Travis Wilkins converted a three point play to make the score 63-60. But it took the fortune of a feline for St. Catharine to hold on from there.
After the Redstorm cut the lead to 63-62 with 3:58 remaining the home team had a chance to take the lead following two missed free throws by the Patriots. But Rio couldn’t control the rebound after the second miss, knocking the ball out of bounds. St. Catharine then dodged another bullet when the subsequent inbounds pass resulted in a held ball but the possession arrow favored the Patriots.
St. Catharine again gained a three point lead but (Rio Grande (7-13, 3-8) again cut the lead to one with two free throws at the 0:27 mark. But Stephen McCray canned two free throws with eight seconds left and a potential game tying shot from half by Jermaine Warmack was well off the mark.
Holding a 49-38 halftime lead, built on 63 percent shooting from the field, it didn’t St. Catharine would need extra lives to claim the victory. But the Patriots shot just 37 percent after intermission which allowed the RedStorm to rally, eventually giving them a brief lead at 57-56 with eight minutes to play.
The Patriots, who now own two wins over the RedStorm this season, ended with their second best shooting night of the season as they hit 53 percent. That came despite just 1-10 shooting from 3-point range. They were 16-25 (64 percent) at the foul line.
The RedStorm shot 38 percent overall and were 7-21 from behind the arc. They shot 83 percent (15-18) from the line.
Omar Skinner paced the Patriots with 21 points on 8-14 from the field. Arthur McMillan added 13 points and Wilkins had 11. Dominique Roy led the team in rebounds with nine, to go along with six assists, but Rio held a 36-35 advantage on the boards.
The Patriots took a 41- 38 halftime lead against the Bears (12-8, 8-4) and never trailed in the second half. The lead grew to as many as 12 points before the Bears were able to cut the lead to 76-72 with 1:04 left. But a putback by Travis Wilkins and a layup by Arthur McMillan, off an assist from William Tolefree, with nine seconds remaining sealed the victory.
Saturday’s victory came due to a balanced attack that saw five Patriots score in double figures. Kevin Kornegay led the way with 19 points and McMillan had 18. Tolefree had 17 while Omar Skinner and Wilkins had 11 and 10 points respectively.
The Patriots held a 42-40 rebounding advantage led by Wilkins and Dominique Roy who had eight rebounds apiece. St. Catharine shot 47.5 percent (29-61) from the field while limiting the Bears to 35 percent shooting (23-66). Shawnee launched 39 3-pont attempts and hit 14 for 36 percent. St. Catharine was 6-16 from behind the arc (37.5 percent).
Jeremy Bennington, who had 26 points including seven treys when Shawnee State won 68-59 earlier this month at St. Catharine, led the Bears with 19 points Saturday. But he was just 4-14 from the field.