Late bucket dooms Hawks

Published 4:40 pm Monday, December 20, 2010

MURFREESBORO – Oh, so close.

Chowan University’s men’s basketball team looked to have pulled off another comeback – their third this season – only to see it so painfully vanish on a three-point basket with two seconds left and leave them on the losing end, 75-73, to St. Andrews College on Saturday at the Helms Center.

Senior Charles Rhodes led the Hawks attack with a game-high 21 points while also three assists and a trio of steals. Junior Mark Brown also hit for double-digits with 15 points while newcomer Deandre Tyree had seven points and a team-high 13 rebounds.  Travis Williams had eight points and three assists.

Chowan outshot St. Andrews 47 percent to 42 percent and held a slim 42-36 rebounding edge. But the Knights defense forced 17 Hawks turnovers – nine in the second half – which they converted into 21 points.

Trailing by as many as 10 points early in the second half, Chowan fought back to take the lead with eight and a half minutes remaining.  It was a four-point game for the next six and a half minutes until the Hawks tied it at the two-minute mark and only surrendered the lead on the game-winning shot.

“It’s the same thing,” said frustrated first-year coach Dan DeRose, “a tale of two halves.

“It’s so close,” he added, shaking his head.  “I mean, we’re right there. It’s just a question of guys making plays, little minor things that we’ve got to correct intelligently and skill-wise to make us better.”

He continued, “We can say we’re in every ball game, but I’ve got to make sure this (inconsistency) doesn’t become contagious.”

St. Andrews broke a 2-2 tie in the early going and went on a 6-0 run as cold shooting plagued Chowan. The Knights built that lead to a dozen seven minutes into the contest and later to a game high 13 points, 23-10, midway through the half.

Trailing by 12 at the eight-minute mark Chowan chipped their deficit down to five with 6:15 until the break thanks to a pair of layups by Brown and a layup and free throw by Jerry Fairley.

But St. Andrews was able to push the lead back out to nine, 35-26, before Christian Um-Kaman made a layup 36 seconds until the half.  But the Hawks defense couldn’t hold, and Michael Dunkins hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer for the 10-point halftime lead (38-28).

The Knights opened the second half with a dunk and that may have just been the spark that awakened Chowan.

Aaron Allen led a charge for the Hawks with a pair of buckets and, despite St. Andrews countering on their end, Chowan cut it to five on a Brown three-pointer.

Rhodes followed that with a steal and a layup to get it to 45-42 five minutes into the half while a rainbow trifecta from Brown cut it to just a one-point lead. Much of the rally was also aided by the strong rebounding of Tyree, who played stout in the pivot despite having three fouls.

Chowan got it to one point again, 50-49, but couldn’t sustain a run because of miscues.  They trailed by two after a pair of Tyree free throws before Brown knotted the score, 55-55, on a baseline layup underneath.

It was 57-all eight-and-a half minutes in when Chowan took its first lead of the half, on a Williams three-point play.

The two teams stayed within four points of each other for the final 10 minutes. Sophomore Lee Branscome tied it at 70-all with just under two minutes to go and a pair of Rhodes free throws gave the Hawks a 72-70 edge heading into the final 90 seconds.

St. Andrews tied it again for the sixth and final time at 1:19 and then looked to have made a steal for a breakaway layup chance, but were whistled for a foul on the play. Tyree made 1-of-2 free throws to give Chowan its final lead at 73-72.

On the trip up court, St. Andrews turned the ball over and it looked like the Hawks were headed to their second win of the year; but they ended up giving it right back to the Knights on a botched in-bounds play.

With two seconds left, St. Andrews (4-5) found an unguarded Dunkins on the right wing and he became the Grinch that stole Christmas as he let fly a three-point prayer that swished through the twine and spoiled the ending for Chowan (1-6).

“I tried to attack the glass and go hard,” said Tyree, playing in just his fourth game of the season. “We’re still learning a new system, but once we get into (CIAA) conference play we’ll be ready to go.”

“We need to pull out some wins,” said Branscome.  “We’re coming that close and we’re going to come around, we just can’t let ourselves get down. We’ve just got to keep working, just keep working.”

“We’re going to be ready,” said Rhodes.  “We think we can beat The Citadel.

“We’re all still positive and we’ve got the mindset,” he added, “we’ve just got to execute.”

Chowan will close 2010 with that Charleston, S.C. trip to The Citadel on New Year’s Eve, then open CIAA conference play in the new year with back-to-back home games against Johnson C. Smith and Fayetteville State.