Following Saturday’s win over Cumberland University (Tenn.) the St. Catharine College Patriots still found themselves in eighth place in the 11-team Mid-South Conference. But the dramatic 76-70 win over the visiting Bulldogs was an indication of how far J.T. Burton’s team has come this season.
Saturday’s victory avenged a 79-59 loss the Patriots suffered at Cumberland on January 3rd. It also gave St. Catharine (10-10, 6-8) a four game winning streak, the first time this season the Patriots have won more than two consecutive contests.
But it did not come easy as it looked like the Bulldogs (8-14, 4-10) would sweep the season series as they led by 11 points with only 5:37 to play. The Patriots, however, came off the mat to score 17 unanswered points to lead 71-65 with 41 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs did cut the advantage to 71-68 with a trey at: 35 but St. Catharine made five of six free throws to clinch the victory.
“We communicated better at the end of the game and that was the difference,” Burton said. “These guys really enjoy playing with each other and they get along so well on and off the court. That is what allows us to make a comeback like that, nobody panicked.”
Both teams shot 45 percent from the field but the game was decided at the foul line. The Patriots made 32 of 38 charity tosses while Cumberland had only eight attempts, making five of those. The Bulldogs were 7-20 from 3-point range while St. Catharine was 4-8 from long range.
Junior forward Arthur McMillan led the Patriots with 18 points. Travis Wilkins and William Tolefree joined him in double figures with 17 and 16 respectively. Omar Skinner had 11 rebounds to lead the Patriots to a 31-24 edge on the boards.The Patriots look to continue their climb up the conference standings with two more home games this week. Thursday they host UVA-Wise (10-8, 6-7) who is one-half game ahead of St. Catharine in the conference. Pikeville (19-3, 10-3), ranked seventh nationally, visits on Saturday. In earlier meetings the Patriots lost 68-61 at UVA-Wise and 87-69 at Pikeville