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Hawks dismantle Builders

MURFREESBORO – If you get just one chance to make a first impression, “Opening Night” for the 2011-12 men’s basketball season at Chowan University’s Helms Center was, well, impressive.

It was a coming-out party on a lot of fronts.

The Hawks won their third game in their last four outings, a 92-69 thrashing of Newport News Apprentice before one of their largest home opener crowds ever, and sent their fans home with plenty of reasons to smile.

Playing in the Helms Center for the first time, Antonio Reddic, the former Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Player of the Week, notched his fourth double-double of the young season with a 23 point-10 rebound night to go along with eight steals, five assists and three blocked shots.

Senior Lee Branscome finished with a career-high 16 points including 4-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Junior James Davis – playing in his first game after sitting out last season as a transfer – introduced himself with a 14-point night.

Chris Williams rounded out the double-figure scoring with 13 points and five assists.

“We wanted to make a statement tonight,” said second-year Chowan Coach Dan DeRose, “that we’re here and people need to take us seriously.

“We’re here to battle,” he added. “We’re learning how to finish halves, finish games, protect leads; and when we face adversity we overcome it and get right back into the ball game.”

After roaring out to a 14-3 lead about the biggest adversity the Hawks faced was keeping up their focus and maintaining a double-digit lead.

From the 12:07 mark in the first half, and trailing 17-6, the closest the Builders came to catching Chowan the rest of the night was cutting the deficit to 10.

Davis opened the game with a rainbow three-pointer followed by Reddic with a high-flying, rim-rattling alley-coop dunk on a pass from Quinton McDuffie, then another trey from Davis and the show was on.

“I just did my job,” said a smiling Davis after the game. “My teammates never gave up on me and I didn’t give up on myself.

“We started the year off running,” he added, “and we’re going to continue to run so this is normal for me.”

Ahead 14-6, nearly eight minutes in, Branscome entered the game and immediately buried back-to-back three-pointers.  In fact, he nailed three of his first four attempts from beyond the arc.

“My teammates were finding me tonight,” said a grinning Branscome after the game, “and I was feeling good.

“It just felt good to be back home,” he added. “We’ve been on the road for six games and tonight the fans were really into it.  They were finding me, it felt good, and I was just knocking ‘me down.”

The Hawks put up 10 three-point attempts in the first 10 minutes of the half and made half of them.

“Shooting threes like we did tonight puts a lot of pressure on the defense to get out on shooters,” said DeRose, “which leaves driving lanes open for us to slash to the basket.”

About the only downer for Chowan was McDuffie picking up three fouls and having to sit out the last nine minutes of the half.

While their defensive intensity was maintained, Chowan’s offensive prowess fell off with the score, 33-15, when they went to a half-court game and Newport News took advantage.

The Builders went on an 8-0 run to get within 10, 33-23, thanks to making six of eight free throws.

Back came Chowan after a timeout and in the final 2:45 they outscored their opponents, 11-2, and took a 44-25 lead into the locker-room at halftime.

Reddic opened the second half with a three-point play to get the lead above 20. He would later thrill the crowd with two more dunks.

Meanwhile Newport News picked up their offense, but Chowan’s never fell off so the Hawks kept a comfortable lead.

The Builders cut it to 13 three times in the first four minutes before Chowan began to stretch it out again.  A 9-2 run, led by a Williams three-point play, quickly got the lead back up to 20, 61-41.

The Hawks padded their cushion and upped the lead to their biggest margin of the night – 26 points – twice in a six minute span.

Newport News knocked 10 points off that margin, but Mark McGlone led a Chowan barrage with five straight points to get it back above 20 again.

Chowan only missed two free throws the entire night, making 18-of-20.  Williams ended the scoring with a dunk and the Hawks had the 23-point win, their third of the year.

“That’s what coach wants down the stretch,” said Reddic, “no close games, no late mistakes, so I try to get things started by jumping on teams early.

“I really don’t concern myself by myself,” he added, referring to his lofty stats. “If it wasn’t for my teammates I couldn’t do what I do so I’m all about the team.”

“When you have a guy that gives like he gives,” said DeRose, “other kids are going to rally around him.  I mean, how could you not?”

Next up for Chowan is an afternoon home game at the Helms Center Saturday (today) at 2 p.m. against Allen University.