Very seldom does the college basketball regular season start before Halloween. But the early beginning did not spook the St. Catharine College Patriots as Lena Bramblett’s women won two games over the weekend and J.T. Burtons’ team won its opener, all of the games being played in the friendly confines of Lourdes Hall.
The Patriot women started things Friday with a 71-68 win over Asbury University. Then on Saturday the men opened the new campaign with a 90-83 win over Mid-Continent University and the women followed with a 102-93 victory over Martin Methodist.
The St. Catharine women overcame a tough Asbury duo of Trenia Barbee and Laura Carroll who combined for 44 points (26 and 18 respectively to outlast the Eagles 71-68. Barbee’s jumper with 20 seconds left cut the lead to 69-68 but Patriot forward Rianne Hofstraat threaded a perfect pass to Machera Calhoun who hit a layup for the winning margin
It was one of 13 assists the Patriots had in the game, a stat that Bramblett feels is typical of the way her team will play this season.
“Right now team chemistry is our biggest strength,” said the Patriot mentor. “We are not shooting the ball very well but we are playing well as a team and getting balanced scoring.”
Janae Howard led four Patriots in double figures with 20 points while also grabbing a game high 15 rebounds. Kasei Evans had 12, Courtney Milam 11 and Calhoun 10.
In Saturday’s game against Martin Methodist the Patriots held a 44-43 halftime lead but gradually pulled away in the second 20 minutes for the 102-93 win. They shot only 39 percent for the game but held the Redhawks to 33 percent.
Again, balanced scoring was a key to the victory as the Patriots placed six players in double figures led by Courtney Milam’s 25 points. Howard had 16, Reilly Poirier 15, Calhoun 14, Lametria Jackson 13 and Jasmine Gibson 10.
In the two victories the Patriots were 3-42 from three point range but that wasn’t a statistic that had Bramblett overly concerned. “We are not taking bad shots so they will start falling. And even though our shooting percentage overall wasn’t good for the two games (33 percent) we played good defense in holding our opponent to even less than that.”
The Patriots led by 12 points at halftime and extended the lead to as many as 17 points in the second half. But Mid-Continent would not go away as Winston Bennett’s Cougars cut the advantage to 88-83 in the final minute. But St. Catharine made two free throws and the visitors misfired on some three pointers to give the patriots the 90-83 win.
The entire game was a foul fest as the teams were whistled for 63 fouls that led to 92 free throws. Sixty of those charity tosses were by the Patriots who connected on 46 of them for 77 percent.
“Our goal is to shoot somewhere between 75 and 80 percent so we did that,” said head coach J.T. Burton. “From what I have seen in practice and this first game this may be the best free throw shooting team we have had here.
Burton added that a team goal is not to take 20 shots from behind the arc as the patriots did Saturday when they made only two of them.”We should not be taking that many threes added Burton. “We want to shoot 70 layups a game. Our strength is to get the ball to the rim.”
Senior Brandon Johnson, the leading scorer in Patriot history, paced the winning effort with 21 points. DeShawn Mitchell and Kashiff Carr added 18 points apiece. The Patriots won the rebounding battle 51-44 as Fateen Belfield and Terrance Withers grabbed seven caroms each.
The men return to action this Friday with a game at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. They are back in Lourdes Hall against Life University at 7:00 Tuesday.
The women play at Berea Tuesday night and will travel to Martin Methodist (Pulaski, Tennessee) next Wednesday.