Patriots start 5-0

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By The Staff

SCC Sports Information

In his first season as head coach of the St. Catharine College Patriots, J.T. Burton notched a not-so-enviable 5-24 record. Now, two weeks into his second campaign, Burton has already equaled last year’s win total.

The Patriots upped their record to 5-0 last week with road wins against Southern Polytechnic State (Marietta, Ga.), 77-67, and Tennessee Wesleyan 76-64, the latter being Burton’s alma mater.

“It feels really good,” beamed Burton of his team’s fast start. “Any time you can win on the road in college basketball it is big, and we were able to get two of them.”

There was a third game last week following the victories on Thursday and Friday. St. Catharine fell 65-41 at NCAA D-I Western Carolina on Saturday, but that was an exhibition game on the Patriots’ schedule. Wade O’Connor, coach at St. Catharine previous to Burton, is head assistant coach at Western Carolina.

At Southern Polytechnic the patriots roared to a 15-0 lead to start the game against the Hornets, a team that has been to the NAIA national tournament five times this decade and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in four of those appearances. The Hornets, 3-1, regrouped from the slow start to tie the game 29-29 at halftime.

As the lead changed hands frequently in the second half, the Patriots finally gained control thanks to big three-point baskets by Adam Decker and Ervin Williams. The Patriots then sealed the game at the free-throw line where they made 22 of 26 for the game.

Brandon Johnson led St. Catharine with 29 points as the sophomore guard from North Hardin was 8-11 from the field, including 4-5 from three –point range. Williams added 14 points, Josh Edwards 13 and Decker 11.

Johnson also added a game-high eight rebounds as the Patriots grabbed 33 caroms to the Hornets’ 27.

Friday night it was the home team who bolted to a 15-point first half lead as Tennessee Wesleyan, 0-2, took advantage of a sluggish St. Catharine squad. But Burton’s bunch came back to take a 38-37 lead at halftime en route to the 76-64 victory.

“We started executing better in the half-court in the second half, and again we hit our free throws, which are so important,” Burton said.

The Patriots were 12-14 from the charity stripe Friday and 34-40 in the two road wins. Junior guard Josh Edwards was especially deadly at the line, where he made 11-12 in the two games.

Five Patriots were in double figures, led by Edwards and Kris Caufield who had 16 points each. Johnson had 13 and Williams and Rainer Rickards had 10 each.

The Patriots looked to extend their winning streak last night as they hosted Alice Lloyd College. This weekend they will play at Georgetown College in the Andrew Elswick Memorial Tournament. They will play Cumberland University (Tennessee) at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday they will play either Evangel or Georgetown in the consolation or championship game. They are back home Tuesday with an 8 p.m. game against Spalding University.