Hawks power past Patriots

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MURFREESBORO – Fifth-year Chowan University men’s basketball coach Jim Tribbett may not have the same unblemished January in 2007 that his team had a season ago when the Hawks were the only college team in the state to go undefeated in men’s hoops for  the first month of the year.

But if his club keeps on winning, he’ll keep on smiling. 

Monday night in Murfreesboro’s Jesse Helms Center, Chowan gave the coach and their fans one to really raise your cheeks and grin about as they pounded the Patriots of Francis Marion University of Florence, South Carolina, 66-47, for the team’s second win in three days to raise Chowan’s season-record to 7-9.

&uot;We had great energy, we had really good concentration,&uot; said a smiling coach Tribbett. &uot;Our kids were connecting the dots, really communicating well, and what was able to happen then was to give us some really easy baskets.&uot;

The ‘easy baskets’ came after the game’s opening minutes produced a 7-7 tie, that’s when Chowan lit the offensive fuse that ignited a 15-0 run against the Patriots, who entered the game with a nine-game losing streak.

Junior Montino Williams, who had a career-high 26 points in his first home start of the season Saturday in the win against Allen University, continued his hot shooting as he connected on his first four shots in a row — all three-pointers — for 12 first-half points. 

And while Williams was bombing away from the outside, six-foot-six freshman Lando Morrison was working inside. The Yorktown, Virginia product not only swept the glass for a team-leading four rebounds in the first half, he also collected eight points in the frame, half of those coming on put-backs. 

Despite three time-outs in a two-and-a-half minute span, Francis Marion coach Gary Edwards could find no answer either for his team’s poor shooting or for Chowan’s great offensive outpouring, which reached 19 points twice, the first time coming twelve minutes into the game on a Morrison lay-up off the glass. 

Francis Marion re-grouped in the closing minutes with a 9-3 run of their own, mostly coming on jump-shots and a switch to a zone defense, but the Patriots still trailed by thirteen, 36-23, at the break.

&uot;I thought we were fortunate to only be down 13 at the half,&uot; said a befuddled Patriot coach Edwards, &uot;but we just can’t score, and we haven’t been able to score. Our shooting is anemic and that makes for a tough night.&uot;

It appeared the second half might be a repeat of the first when Jaleel Nelson opened the Chowan scoring with a three-pointer.

And while Francis Marion’s cold shooting continued, the Patriots were also falling victim to numerous turnovers, giving the ball back to Chowan thirteen times on the night.

And the Hawks were glad to oblige their guests: with a 16-point lead, Trayvon Lathan stole the ball in the open court and headed the other way for a rim-rattling dunk to make it, 43-25, Chowan. 

Francis Marion’s frustration was exemplified for the night on a possession at the 15-minute mark when they missed four attempts to drain a field goal – all in the paint, before the ball dribbled off Rodrick Burton’s foot out of bounds to give the possession to Chowan. 

A 15-point deficit, 47-32, was as close as the Patriots came in the half, while the Hawks built their biggest lead to 26 points with four-and-a-half minutes to play before Chowan coasted to the easy win, 66-47. 

The Hawks shot 44 percent from the floor, as Montino Williams led the scoring for the second game in a row with a team-high 17 points. Senior Trayvon Lathan scored 14 points and now needs just 19 total points to become the program’s all-time leading scorer, while freshman Morrison scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. 

Deon Tynes also returned after missing the last two games with an injury and had five points in eleven minutes of play.

&uot;I thought the first 10 minutes of the game our defense was as good as any time I’ve seen here in five years,&uot; said Tribbett. &uot;What was able to happen then was to give us some easy baskets which was really important since we then didn’t have to grind it out (against) a much bigger, and much more physical team.&uot;

&uot;We’re not going to give up,&uot; vowed coach Edwards, after seeing his team fall to 3-11 and lose their tenth consecutive game. &uot;Hopefully we’ll play better when Chowan comes back to us (at Florence, SC) in a couple of weeks.&uot;  Chowan will play FMU in a rematch on Feb. 12.

But before the Hawks see the Patriots again they have a few more games in between, including closing out their three-game homestand Friday night against Maryland Bible College.  Game time at the Helms Center is set for 7:30 PM.