The St. Catharine College Patriots squeezed two more games into the schedule last weekend before the team left for a much deserved Christmas break. But neither game will officially count on the schedule as they both were exhibition games played at Bellarmine University against NCAA D-II opposition.
And while the two contests resulted in losses, Friday to Southern Indiana 65-62 and Saturday to Bellarmine 91-79, Patriot head coach J.T. Burton sees the games as a win for his team. “Anytime you can play quality competition like that it has to help you,” said Burton whose tam will take a 6-5 record into the new year.
Quality competition, indeed. Southern Indiana (6-0) is currently ranked third in the nation while Bellarmine (6-1), the defending NCAA D-II National Champion, is ranked sixth.
St. Catharine fell behind Southern Indiana 35-27 at halftime of Friday’s contest but had 14 second half field goals while holding the Screaming Eagles to just seven. That allowed the Patriots to stage a comeback that brought them within one point with 3:01 to play. But Southern Indiana never gave up the lead and sank five of six free throws down the stretch to claim the three point win.
Southern Indiana shot 74 percent from the foul line (25-34). The Patriots made 85 percent of their charity tosses but only had 13 attempts, making 11. Both teams shot 36 percent from the field. Southern Indiana held a 48-33 rebounding advantage.
DeShawn Mitchell and Stefan Pope were the only St. Catharine players in double figures with 14 and 11 points respectively.
Saturday was again an uphill battle for the Patriots who trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half before trimming the deficit to 49-41 at intermission. The Knights quickly pushed the lead back to double figures in the second half and led by as many as 18 points. St. Catharine twice cut the lead to nine points but never got closer.
Mitchell paced the patriots again with 24 points. He was followed by Brandon Johnson who hit six treys, in 12 attempts, for 23 points. Kashiff Carr, the team’s leading scorer who played just 21 minutes due to foul trouble added 109 points. Pope grabbed eight rebounds for the Patriots but the Knights controlled the boards 39-28.
Jeremy Kendle led the Knights with 29 points and Chris Dowe had 20.
St. Catharine will return to action January 5th with a conference game at UVA-Wise. That is the first of three Mid-South Conference road games before the patriots return home January 19th to play Cumberlands.