Patriots take over first place in the Mid-South

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By SCC Sports Information

SCC Sports Information

In less than three years as a member of the NAIA, J.T. Burton’s St. Catharine College Patriots have garnered national attention.

That exposure has increased even more this year with wins over some nationally ranked NAIA opponents and an exhibition victory over Bellarmine University, who at the time was ranked first in NCAA D-II.
  Now, even more importantly, Burton finds his team in sole possession of first place in the Mid-South Conference, considered by many to be the top basketball league in the nation. The Patriots claimed the top spot with two wins at home this week while Georgetown uncharacteristically lost a conference game at Shawnee State.
“We have a long way to go in the season,” said Burton, whose team is 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference.
 “We are just one-third of the way through our conference schedule and have a lot of those remaining games on the road.”
Thursday’s contest turned into a foul-fest as the two teams were whistled for a total of 60 personal fouls. The Patriots found themselves in a battle as they trailed by two with less than six minutes to play, but won the game at the foul line, pulling away late for the 94-81 win.
St. Catharine was led by Kashiff Carr’s 20 points. Senior center Ervin Williams added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Edwards had 14 points and Antoine Watson scored 12.
“We came out kind of flat for some reason,” said Burton. “And it was hard to get into any kind of rhythm with so many fouls called. But really, that works to our benefit because we have such a deep bench when starters get in foul trouble.”
The Patriots found enough rhythm to shoot a season-best 56 percent from the field despite hitting only 31 percent (4-13) from three-point range. UVA-Wise (7-7, 1-4) shot 44 percent from the field but committed 25 turnovers against a tenacious Patriot defense.
Fouls were again abundant Saturday in the Patriots’ 97-83 win over Pikeville (14-4, 3-3). A total of 56 personals were called and 65 free throws were shot.
“We knew it would be a battle,” Burton said. “It was a game we had to win. They came in at 3-2 and we were 4-1, so the win put some separation between us.”
The Patriots took a 36-29 halftime lead and stretched the advantage to as many as 22 points in the second half. But Pikeville trimmed the lead to nine points with six minutes to play before the Patriots were able to seal the win at the charity stripe.
The Patriots made 39 of 54 free throws (72 percent) while the Bears were 26-35 (74 percent) from the foul line. St. Catharine held a 46-27 edge in rebounding,  which included 15 offensive rebounds to Pikeville’s eight offensive boards.
Kashiff Carr, who has scored at least 20 points in four of the five games he has played since becoming eligible, led the Patriots with 24. Ervin Williams chipped in 15 and a game-high 11 rebounds. Brandon Johnson also had 15 points while Josh Edwards and Marquis Lee had 14 and 10 respectively.
The Patriots are on the road Thursday at Mountain State (West Virginia) which was ranked eighth in the latest NAIA poll. The Patriots beat Mountain State at home 99-86 on Dec. 10, one of only two losses the Cougars have this season. On Saturday it is a return to Mid-South Conference play as Campbellsville visits Lourdes Hall for a 4 p.m. game.