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Chowan defeats NNA

MURFREESBORO – Raul Tutelea loves his motorcycle, even riding it from his native Canada to Murfreesboro once this season.

Saturday, the Montreal native and freshman swingman, instead rode an outstanding performance with a career-high of 26 points and a near double-double of nine rebounds as Chowan led from the opening tip and improved it’s record to 8-11; breaking a brief two-game losing slide with an 85-74 win over Newport News Apprentice.

Jaleel Nelson finished with 23 points including going 10-of-13 from the free-throw line, and Chris Kenon added 11 points with eight assists. 

Eric Joe paced the Builders with 26 points, while the team’s leading-scorer, sophomore Jason Arrington was held to just 11 points and had eight turnovers.

The Hawks shot 58 percent for the game while holding the Builders to just under 39 percent shooting. They were most effective in the first half from beyond the three-point arc as they went 8-for-13 for a 57 percent shooting clip. Chowan also had active hands on defense, accounting for 10 steals.

The game was highlighted by intense physical play, with 26 fouls whistled for each team and 74 free throws attempted.

After opening with a 7-0 run in the game’s first three minutes the Hawks matched that lead twice more before another charge with five minutes to play pushed them out to a double-figure lead they maintained for the rest of the first half. 

Tutelea and Nelson were the biggest beneficiaries of all that offense with a dozen points each at the half.  A Nelson free-throw gave the Hawks their biggest lead of the frame at 36-21 and they coasted into the locker-room leading by a dozen at 36-24.

In the second half, the Hawks never let the lead get below double digits, and added some spectacular athletic play to delight the matinee home crowd. 

Sophomore Lando Morrison delighted the crowd by scoring six points in a row including following up a teammates’ missed shot with a rim-rattling slam dunk. 

Senior Montino Williams also helped the Hawks down the stretch with quality play: a steal, an assist, a rebound, and a lay-up to help his younger enthused teammates maintain their composure despite numerous late Chowan turnovers. 

Chowan took its biggest lead of the game at 17 with under three minutes to play, but free throw shooting and a pair of late three-pointers made for the final 11-point margin of victory.

&uot;Despite that final score, that’s a very dangerous, a very athletic team,&uot; said Hawks coach Jim Tribbett afterward.  &uot;They really wanted to take it to us, and I feel very fortunate to win.&uot;

The victory marked Chowan’s seventh in a row over NNA dating back to 2005. Tribbett has never lost to the Builders in all his years of coaching in Murfreesboro.

&uot;This was pretty much a statement game for us,&uot; said Nelson, &uot;because the next five games we have are no joke and we need to start building some momentum heading into the post-season.&uot;

&uot;Maybe,&uot; he winked, &uot;we can go into it (the post-season) with a winning record.&uot;

&uot;My teammates made it easy for me,&uot; said a smiling Tutelea – already dressed in his biker leathers after the game. &uot;They just dished it to me and all I had to do was make lay-ups. 

&uot;I credit them for the win,&uot; he said modestly, &uot;and my points.&uot;

Chowan travels to Mars Hill on Tuesday for their third meeting with the Lions dating back to a tournament back in December.  They’ll be going for the sweep, having won previous games, 74-61 in the Catawba Classic and 85-78 here in Murfreesboro.  They’ll return to the Helms Center Saturday with a home game against Allen University with a 2 p.m. tip-off.