Hawks fall to VUU

Published 9:57 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MURFREESBORO – A game of numbers.

Close numbers.

Chowan’s men’s basketball team fell to Virginia Union Monday night at the Helms Center 62-58; their fifth loss in their last six games by four points or less.

While it was not a great shooting night from the floor for the Hawks (41.5 percent), their defense stepped up in handcuffing the Panthers’ shooters and holding them to 38.7 percent.

Kyree Bethel led Chowan with 19 points, including four three pointers and going 3-for-3 from the free throw line.  Quinton McDuffie scored 14 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, and Mark McGlone – playing his next-to-last game in the Helms Center – dished out five assists to go with nine points and six rebounds.

“It’s the same old story can’t close out and can’t finish,” said a frustrated coach Dan DeRose after the game. “We got beat on the boards, we didn’t shoot very well, and we made some bad decisions down the stretch.”

Chowan led for the majority of the game; jumping out to an early 13-8 lead five minutes into the game thanks to three three-pointers from Bethel.

They followed that up with an 11-2 run that grew the lead to 10, 26-16, with just under eight minutes to play in the first half. Defensively, Chowan held Virginia Union to just one field goal over a six-minute span.
Three Bethel free throws got the Chowan bulge up to a dozen, 30-18, with six minutes remaining.

However, Virginia Union didn’t slink away, after a timeout to make some changes the Panthers ended the half on a 10-2 run to go into halftime down just four, 32-28.

The Panthers’ offensive rebirth continued into the second half as they got the Chowan lead down to just a single point, 36-35, five minutes into the half; and then they tied it, 40-40, with 12 and a half minutes to go.

Chowan regrouped and a 6-0 run, capped by a McDuffie free-throw, got the lead up to six, 46-40. But the Panthers kept plugging away, and tied it again at 53-all with just under four minutes remaining.

Two Panther free throws with 2:12 to play gave Virginia Union their first lead since early on in the first half; and unfortunately for Chowan it would be a lead they would not relinquish.

But Chowan had plenty of fight remaining themselves to the end.

With 51 seconds remaining, McDuffie hit a layup in the paint to make it a two-point game again, 57-55.

DeRose called timeout to set up his defense on the next Union possession only to see the Panthers drain a three-pointer and gain a four-point bulge, 60-55. Union made one more shot despite a Mark Buright three-pointer and won by four.

“When they went on a run, we just couldn’t counter it,” said McDuffie. “Our defense got a little lackadaisical.”

“That was no Austin Rivers play for them there at the end,” said McGlone. “Words don’t express how frustrating this is.”

“We’re fighting to get out of last place now,” added Bethel. “We need a strong finish in these last games going into the tournament.”

Chowan closes out its regular season back at the Helms Center on the Feb. 25 against Virginia State with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.