ST. CATHARINE – Trailing 93-92 in overtime with 4.9 seconds on the clock, Elisha Justice sank a pair of free throws and the No. 7 University of Pikeville men’s basketball team forced a St. Catharine (Ky.) turnover to complete a 94-93 comeback win in the Mid-South Conference opener on Thursday at Lourdes Hall.
With just under nine minutes left in the second half, UPIKE trailed by 16 points but went on an 18-3 run over the next four minutes to get within one at 74-73 on a 3-point play by Justice. Keala King started the run with a three and Pikeville went 6-for-7 on free throws to complete the comeback.
After Omar Skinner hit two free throws with a minute left in regulation, neither team scored again as the final shot was blocked by Reed to send the game to overtime.
Taron Franklin’s jumper with 54 seconds left gave St. Catharine a three-point lead at 93-90, while Reed went to the line for two makes to cut the advantage to one. Reed made the play of the game blocking Franklin’s layup on the next possession, allowing Justice to get fouled and hit with winning free throws.
Skinner had four seconds to get down the court for a game winner, but turned the ball over at the 3-point line, allowing Reed to throw the ball towards the Pikeville basket as time expired.
UPIKE improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the MSC, while St. Catharine dropped to 3-2 and 0-1 in league play.
Chris Cantino posted his third straight double-double for UPIKE with 19 points and 15 rebounds, King added a game-high 24 points and nine boards and Bruce Reed finished with 23 points. Josh Whitaker and Justice joined them in double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
William Tolefree and Skinner paced St. Catharine with 21 points each, while William Bailey added 19.
Both teams shot 50 percent from the field, while UPIKE also shot 50 percent from behind the arc (7-of-14), compared to a 4-of-15 showing by the Patriots (26.7 percent). Pikeville also led the rebounding battle 39-37.
UPIKE took a 9-4 lead early in the first half on a layup by King, but a little over a minute later the Patriots had completed a 6-0 run with a basket by Julito Hutchinson to take a 10-9 lead.
The Bears went on top just one other time in the half at 18-16 on a jumper from Cantino with 10:41 left. From there the Patriots went ahead by as many as nine points on a Romeo Lewis layup.
Pikeville used the final three minutes of the half to get back in the game as both Michael Eneh and Justice hit two free throws and King knocked down a jumper to make it a 39-36 St. Catharine lead with one minute on the clock.
The Patriots closed the half with two makes from the line, while Whitaker knocked down a three to make it 41-39 Patriot lead at halftime.