M. Basketball

Catawba Advances To The 2009 Food Lion SAC Tournament Championship After Beating Top-Seeded L-R, 79-68

Bears, now 18-10 on the year, await berth to the regionals

Junior guard Marcus Hodges finishes with a game-high 20 for L-R in the 79-68 loss to CatawbaJunior guard Marcus Hodges finishes with a game-high 20 for L-R in the 79-68 loss to Catawba

Hickory, N.C. - The Catawba College men's basketball team took the lead early in the second half and never gave it back, obtaining a 79-68 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne University in the semi-finals of the 2009 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference tournament Saturday evening at Catawba Valley Community College Multipurpose Complex.

With the victory, Catawba improves to 20-9 overall. Lenoir-Rhyne is 18-10 overall. The Catawba Indians will face either Newberry or Tusculum in Sunday's 4 p.m. championship contest. Catawba, the fourth seed, will be playing in the tournament finals for the third consecutive year.

Lenoir-Rhyne, which saw its eight-game winning streak snapped, will await word for an at-large berth in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional tournament. The NCAA will announce bids Sunday night.

Catawba sophomore guard Dominick Reid (Charlotte, N.C.) led all scorers with 23 poi! ! nts. The 5-10 Cannon School product added seven rebounds as Catawba won the rebounding battle 50-25. Reid had 14 points in the pivotal second half.

Indian All-SAC performer Antonio Houston (Charlotte, N.C.) had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while junior forward Donald Rutherford (Morganton, N.C.) posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. Thanks to the efforts of Rutherford and the Catawba reserves, the Indians held a 24-8 advantage in bench points.

For Lenoir-Rhyne, junior guard Marcus Hodges (Wake Forest, N.C.) had a game-high 20 points and he hit six-of-nine field goals and went five-of-six from beyond the three-point line.

All-SAC standout Elliott McDowell (Canton, N.C.) recorded 18 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists in his final SAC Tournement appearance. All-SAC senior guard Josh Rudder (Graham, N.C.) contributed 13 points, four steals and three assists as well despite the loss. McDowell earned First-Team All-SAC honors the night before while Rudder was named second team for the third time in his career.

In the second stanza, Catawba senior forward Isaac Rose (Jonesville, N.C.) hit a jump! ! er at the 14:51 mark to give the Indians a 48-46 advantage. Rose's hoop broke the seventh (and final) tie of the contest. Catawba shot a sizzling 58.3 percent after intermission (21-of-36), while Lenoir-Rhyne hit 41.4 percent of its second half field goal attempts (12-of-29).

A Rutherford basket helped Catawba build its lead to 53-47 with 13:15 remaining in the game. Rutherford made another field goal at the 9:26 plateau, pushing the Indians' edge to 64-56. Catawba senior center Cliff Burns (Cooleemee, N.C.) converted a jumper in the paint to put the Indians up 72-61 with 4:47 to go. Catawba led by as many as 13 points in the waning moments.

Lenoir-Rhyne hit only four field goals in the final 10 minutes of the contest. Catawba had 20 points in the same time span to pull away for the victory. Five different Indians contributed points in the 10-minute stretch, with Reid putting down seven of Catawba's last 20 markers.

Catawba doubled up Lenoir-Rhyne on the glass, recording a 50-25 rebounding advantage. Rutherford's 11 caroms led the way. Both Houston and Reid had seven rebounds each for the victors. McDowell led Lenoir-Rhyne with his six boards.

In addition to McDowell and Rudder, sophomore forward D.J. Blackmon (Albemarle, N.C.) was chosen to the second team while John Lentz was named South Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball Coach Of The Year for the sixth time in his career.

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