CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A late scoring drought proved costly for the Anderson men's basketball team, as the Trojans were unable to pull off a surprise upset of nationally sixth-ranked Queens, with the Royals overcoming a late six-point second-half deficit and prevailing, 78-74, in the South Atlantic Conference opener for both teams, Tuesday night at the Levine Center.
Anderson (3-2, 0-1 SAC) dropped its first decision in four outings, while Queens avoided its second home loss in four days and improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in conference action.
"Unfortunately we didn't make enough winning plays down the stretch to win on the road," said Anderson head coach Jeff Brookman. "But there's no time to hang our heads. We learn from it and get ready for the next game."
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Junior guard Quin Nottingham, who leads the league in scoring, netted a game-high 26 points and swiped a game-high three steals, with junior forward Josh Livingston adding 18 points. Senior guard Shawn Benard tallied 11 points and grabbed five rebounds, while dishing out a game-best five assists. Junior guard Alex Keel posted seven points, with sophomore center Jason Edwards adding six points and pulling down a career-high seven rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Livingston scored the Trojans' first five points of the contest and less than two minutes later, sophomore forward Satchel Hester connected on three free throws to give AU a slim 8-6 advantage with a little more than 16 minutes left in the first half. Following a basket by Queens' Gavin Rains, Livingston dropped in his seventh point inside the opening six minutes, with the Royals' Junathean Cunningham knotting the score at 10 apiece moments later.
The two teams then suffered through a scoring drought of nearly three minutes before consecutive baskets by Nottingham and Edwards gave the Trojans a four-point advantage at the 10:11 mark. The Black and Gold, which had connected on just one of its first seven 3-point attempts in the opening nine minutes, then erupted for four treys in a span of just more than three minutes to push AU's lead to 26-18 with 4:45 on the clock. Benard drained a pair of treys during the surge, with Nottingham capping a 9-2 run with two 3-pointers of his own.
Another jumper by Nottingham less than two minutes later pushed the lead to nine – at 30-21 – but the two-time defending region champions used a 10-2 run over the final three minutes of the half to pull within just 32-31 at the break.
Keel's 3-pointer with 17:52 on the clock pushed AU's advantage to 38-31, but Queens countered with a 14-3 surge and claimed its first lead since the 16:27 mark of the first half, at 45-41.
Nottingham snapped the Royals' run with an old-fashioned three-point play and following a pair of baskets by Livingston, his two free throws regained a 50-47 lead for AU. Queens' Kenny Dye deadlocked the score at 50 apiece on another traditional three-point play, but the Trojans responded by regaining the lead and steadily pushing their advantage to 60-54 on a layup by Edwards with 7:21 remaining.
After the Royals trimmed the AU lead to just 62-61, another jumper by Keel gave the Trojans a 64-61 lead with 5:08 on the clock. But AU committed a pair of turnovers and went cold, as the Trojans connected on just one of its next four field goal attempts, enabling Queens to go on a 15-3 run and claim a 76-67 lead with 48 seconds left.
Nottingham knocked down a jumper and Livingston followed with an old-fashioned three to get AU as close as four with 30 seconds on the clock. But Queens made just enough free throws (2-for-4) inside the final 24 seconds to hold on for their second home win of the season, as Keel connected on a late jumper to set the final score.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Trojans forced Queens into 23 turnovers – a season-high for an opponent.
• The Trojans held the high-powered Queens offense to 15 points below its scoring average.
• The Royals won the battle of the boards, 45-22, and recorded 16 offensive rebounds.
• AU was 13-of-16 (81.3%) from the free throw stripe, while the Royals were 23-of-30 (76.7%).
• Queens holds a 32-9 advantage in the all-time series.
• The Trojans' three-overtime contest at Erskine is one of three 3-overtime games in NCAA D-II this season.
• AU's last two losses at the Levine Center have been by a combined six points.
• The Trojans were bidding for their first win in Charlotte since the 2010 season and just the third win over the Royals in the Queen City since the 2002 campaign.
Anderson will wrap up its season-opening, six-game road swing by traveling to league-newcomer UVa-Wise for the first time in school history on Saturday. Tip-off versus the Cavaliers is slated for 4 p.m.