Basketball (M)

William Tolefree scored 11 points in the gameWilliam Tolefree scored 11 points in the game's first four minutes and led the Patriots in scoring with 14.

Bears Battle Back to Better Burton's Bunch

             St. Catharine College head coach J.T. Burton has analyzed statistics and found that “we have not been very good in the last nine minutes of games”. And that play down the stretch is what cost the Patriots in Thursday’s 68-59 loss to visiting Shawnee State.

Actually, the most recent late-game slide came a little before the nine minute mark as the Bears battled back to win the Mid-South Conference clash. After a 29-22 halftime lead, the Patriots led by as many as ten points in the second half and still held a 44-36 advantage with 12 minutes to play.

But Shawnee State (9-6, 6-2) went on a 13-4 run to take a one point lead at the 7:08 mark. The Patriots (7-8, 1-6) briefly regained the lead at 50-49 but when Jeremy Bennington canned one of his seven treys for the game at 6:11, Shawnee State took a 52-50 lead and would never trail again.

“I was up until 3:30 watching the game film and you can’t say it was a lack of effort on our part or that we weren’t hustling,” said Burton. “The ball just seemed to fall their way toward the end and they hit some big shots.”

No bigger shots than Bennington’s who led all scorers with 26 points including 7-13 from 3-point range. Following the shot that gave his team the lead, Bennington drilled his next three 3-point attempts to put the Bears ahead 61-55.

St. Catharine led by as many as nine points early in the game as William Tolefree scored 11 of his team high 14 points in the first four minutes of the contest. Travis Wilkins, the Patriots’ leading scorer, added 13 points but played just 15 minutes due to foul trouble. Omar Skinner had 12 points.

St. Catharine shot just 37 percent from the field while the Bears connected on 48 percent. Shawnee State was only 9-21 from the foul line (43 percent) and the Patriots were 74 percent (14-19) at the charity stripe. Shawnee State held a 38-31 rebounding advantage. Wilkins led the Patriots with nine boards and Arthur McMillan, in his first game for the Patriots, grabbed eight caroms.

“We just have to keep playing hard and we’ll be alright,” Burton concluded. “We have some new guys this semester so we just have to learn to play together and for them to understand their roles.”

That understanding will be put to the test again Saturday when Rio Grande visits for a 4:00 game. The RedStorm will bring a 6-11 overall record and a 2-6 conference mark into the game. They are currently in 10th place in the MSC, leading only the Patriots who are holding down last place.

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