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 (7-10, 3-8) 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 look like 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 remain on the road where they will play at Shawnee State at 4:00 Saturday. The Bears took sole possession of third place in the Mid-South Conference with an 87-85 overtime win over Georgetown on Thursday. The Patriots’ win at Rio now puts them in a three way tie for eighth place in the conference with the RedStorm and Cumberland University.