ST. CATHARINE – The top-ranked University of Pikeville men’s basketball team turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 92-79 win on the road at St. Catharine with the help of a 21-of-28 showing from the free-throw line on Thursday.
The teams shot a nearly identical percentage from the field at 48.5 percent for the Bears and 48.4 for the Patriots and St. Catharine hit two more 3-pointers with seven.
Free throws and turnovers ultimately made the difference. While UPIKE (17-1, 4-1 MSC) connected on 21 freebies, St. Catharine (5-12, 1-5 MSC) finished just 10-of-14 from the line. The Patriots also turned the ball over 20 times on a night when the Bears treasured it, giving it up just eight times.
Christian Leach had a big night off the bench for UPIKE, leading the team with 19 points, including making all five of his free throws. Macari Brooks added 17 points, Trey Rakes finished with 16 and Colt Chapman chipped in with 13. Brooks paced the team with seven rebounds as they outrebounded the Patriots 38-37.
Brandon Bobb Jones led St. Catharine with a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Emory Bennett backed him up with 20 and eight down low.
It was no doubt a slow start for the Bears, which saw themselves down by nine at 23-14 midway through the first half. They chipped away at the deficit for the rest of the half before going into the break down by one at 42-41.
Scoring the first seven points of the second half helped push the game in UPIKE’s favor. Chapman and Brooks got things rolling with back-to-back buckets, then Daniel Afeaki came through with an and-one play to make it 49-45.
With the Patriots still hanging around down 60-54 with six minutes left, Rakes came through with a pair of daggers, hitting two three pointers just minutes apart to push UPIKE ahead by 12.