GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Junior guard Randall Shaw's jumper in the paint with 10.1 seconds on the clock lifted the Anderson men's basketball team to a 69-68 South Atlantic Conference win over Tusculum, Thursday night at Pioneer Arena.
After enduring a 24-hour delay due to inclement weather throughout the region, Anderson (6-12, 4-6 SAC) wrapped up the first half of its double round-robin conference schedule by winning two of its last three outings and collected its third road victory of the season. Tusculum fell to 5-12 overall and 3-7 in conference play with its third loss in four decisions.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Shaw came off the bench to lead all scorers with 21 points on the night on the strength of 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, while also grabbing five rebounds. Forward Jeremy Bouton added 18 points, including 13 in the second half, and dished out a career-high five assists. The junior from Orlando, Fla. also shared team-high rebounding honors with eight boards. Junior guard Gage Ellis netted 12 points and recorded eight rebounds, with senior guard Maurice Howard handing out a team-best seven assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojan defense held Tusculum scoreless for the first 5:33 of the game and AU capitalized on the Pioneer drought by scoring the first six points of the contest. After connecting on just one of their first 10 field goal attempts, the Pioneers responded by scoring five straight points to trim AU's advantage to just one at the 13:51 mark.
But the Trojans answered by outscoring TC, 10-4, over the next three minutes, with Shaw extending AU's advantage to 16-9 on back-to-back treys with 11:00 remaining in the half. The Pioneers chipped away and eventually claimed their first lead of the night, 18-17, on a 3-pointer from junior forward Zach Hartle, with the lead changing hands four times over a 75-second span.
After Tusculum grabbed its largest lead of the night, at 22-19 with 5:18 on the clock, the Trojans closed the half with an 11-1 scoring outburst and took a 30-23 advantage to the break. Shaw nailed a 3-pointer and Ellis scored the final four points of the half on free throws to fuel the run.
AU stretched its lead to double-digits by scoring the first four points of the second stanza, but after the Trojans built their largest advantage of the game, at 34-23 less than a minute into the second half, Tusculum went on a 20-9 run behind a barrage of 3-pointers over the next seven minutes to knot the score at 43 apiece on an old-fashioned three-point play by junior guard Malik Tyree.
Shaw then sparked nine unanswered points by the Black and Gold with his fourth consecutive 3-pointer of the contest, while Bouton followed with a pair of jumpers, as the Trojans rebuilt a 52-43 lead.
Later, with AU clinging to a one-point advantage and more than four minutes on the clock, Shaw nailed another 3-pointer from the wing to give AU a 61-57 lead. The Greenville, S.C., native followed with a jumper less than a minute later to give the Trojans some breathing room with exactly 3:00 remaining.
After the Pioneers again closed within a single point, the Trojans dropped in back-to-back layups but were unable to convert on free throws following each basket and Tusculum rattled off five straight points, including three free throws from junior guard Donovan Donaldson. The mini-run was capped by a traditional three-point play by redshirt freshman Dustin Day that gave the Pioneers their first lead of the second half, at 68-67, with 19.9 seconds left in the game.
Following a Trojan timeout, Shaw moved from the right side of the court into the lane and his leaning, floating jumper found the bottom of the net with 10.1 seconds on the clock. Donaldson misfired on the potential game-tying jumper with four seconds left and after the ball was knocked out of bounds with less than a second on the clock, the Trojans survived another game-tying attempt at the buzzer.
• AU outscored the Pioneers, 32-20, in the paint.
• Tusculum won the rebounding battle, 49-32, and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds, while recording 19 second-chance points.
• Gage Ellis has reached double-figure scoring in nine straight games.
• After pulling down double-digit offensive rebounds in three of their last five games, the Trojans were unable to pull down an offensive rebound until midway through the second half.
• The Trojans held Tusculum to 23 first-half points, marking the fewest points by an opponent in a half this season.
AU opens the second half of its conference slate by playing host to Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday. AU will be looking to earn a split of the season series after falling, 80-73, in the SAC opener for both teams. Tip-off versus L-R is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Abney Center.
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