Basketball (M)

Xavier KeelingXavier Keeling's double-double helped the Patriots to Saturday's win.

Patriots reach conference final with win over Pikeville

St. Catharine plays for first MSC championship Sunday

The second-seeded St. Catharine College Patriots (22-7) advanced to the Mid-South Conference championship game where they will play Georgetown College Sunday at 4 p.m. at  the Frankfort Convention Center. They earned the final berth Saturday night with a 79-73 win over Pikeville College. 

No. 18-ranked St. Catharine scored seven of the game's last nine points to win a battle that featured eighth ties and eight lead changes.

Four different times during the back-and-forth affair the two teams produced double digit runs to seemingly take control of the game. Each time, the deficit was erased with a comeback would swing the momentum.

St. Catharine used a 12-1 run in the early stages of the first half only to have the third-seeded Bears respond with a 13-4 to close the half and tie the game at 43-43 at the break.

No. 24-ranked Pikeville (25-7) grabbed its largest lead of the game at 62-52 with 12:28 left. But this time it was the Patriots who responded with a 20-7 run over the next eight minutes to take a 72-69 lead with four minutes left in the game.

Pikeville's Vance Cooksey -- who finished with a career-high 34 points -- ended the Patriot run with his final basket of the night to cut St. Catharine's lead to 72-71 with 3:11 left.

But four straight St. Catharine points -- a basket from Kashiff Carr and two free throws from Marquis Lee -- stretched the lead to 76-71 with less than a minute remaining. Carr finished with a team-high 23 points while Lee added 19.

Pikeville's Justin Hicks scored on the subsequent Bear possession with a layup to cut the St. Catharine lead to 76-73.

Following a pair of misses from Lee at the free throw line, Pikeville's Trevor Setty missed a chance to tie the game with 11.8 seconds left as his three-pointer clanged off the rim.

The Patriots closed the game making a pair of free throws to advance into the championship game.

St. Catharine's Xavier Keeling added a double-double in the win with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Pikeville's Quincy Hankins-Cole contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.



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