CHARLOTTE – Fourth-seeded Catawba limited the UNC Pembroke men's basketball team to just 32 percent shooting and used a 19-2 run early in the first half to knock off the fifth-seeded Braves, 80-61, in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast Regional on Saturday evening in Charlotte.
The setback marked the fifth loss in the last seven outings for the Braves (21-10) who will shelve an unprecedented third-straight 20-win season, as well as their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last nine years. The triumph marked the sixth-straight win for the Indians (25-7) who had dropped five of the last six meetings in the series with UNCP heading into the weekend.
|SCORE: Catawba 80, UNC Pembroke 61
RECORDS: UNC Pembroke 21-10; Catawba 25-7
LOCATION: Charlotte, N.C.. (Levine Center/NCAA Southeast Regional)
|HOW IT HAPPENED|
|The Braves shot just 28 percent from the field in the opening half, but kept themselves in the game thanks to a 28-17 advantage in the rebounding column, including 13 offensive boards. UNCP chipped into a six-point deficit on Akia Pruitt'sshort jumper with 7:41 to play, but the Black & Gold came up empty on its next nine field goal attempts which, in turn, fueled a 10-3 run by the Indians. Catawba led by as many as 11 points, 33-22, after Marcell Haskett's 3-pointer with 3:58 left before the break, but the Braves scored eight of the final 10 points of the half and trailed by just five, 35-30, heading into the locker rooms.|
|UNCP scored six of the first seven points in the second half and eventually knotted the score up at 36 apiece on a pair of free throws from David Strother just more than two minutes in. Jeremy McLaughlin's tip-in on the other end of the court, however, ignited a game-changing 19-2 run by the Indians over the next five minutes that eventually gave them a 57-40 lead with 12:06 remaining. The run was fueled by 0-for-4 shooting by the Braves, who also turned the ball over five times over the stretch as well.|
|INSIDE THE BOX SCORE|
|+ Junior Akia Pruitt notched his eighth double-double of the season (20th career) with a team-high 18 points and 14 rebounds. He also added three blocks and one steal.
+ Sophomore David Strother scored 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting. He also finished 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
+ Senior James Murray-Boyles scored four points before fouling out with just more than six minutes left. Murray-Boyles wrapped up his collegiate career with 1,369 points (11.1/game) which ranks 18th on the program's all-time scoring chart. The Columbia, S.C., native is one of just three players in program history (Brandon Watts, Akia Pruitt) to play on three NCAA Tournament teams.
|+ The Braves fell to 2-6 all-time across six NCAA Tournament appearances with Saturday's loss. UNCP is now 0-5 as the lower seed in NCAA Tournament games as well.
+ UNCP finishes its 2018-19 campaign with 21 victories, as well as its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last nine years (three-straight trips). The Black & Gold has now tallied five 20-win seasons under head coach Ben Miller, including an unprecedented third-straight 20-win season this year.
+ Head coach Ben Miller will take 199 career victories into his 12th season at the helm of the program in 2019-20. Miller notched his 199th career win (all at UNCP) in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal victory over Georgia College.