Wingate outlasts Eagles in SAC Tournament opener, 58-51
Wingate, N.C.----The third-seeded Wingate University Bulldogs outlasted the sixth-seeded Eagles of Carson-Newman 58-51 Wednesday night in a game that no team led by double figures until the final 30 seconds. With the victory, the Bulldogs improve to 18-11 overall and advance to the Food Lion SAC Tournament semifinals Saturday against Lincoln Memorial. Carson-Newman ends its season at 15-14.
Senior guard Jaime Vaughn (Tallahassee, Fla.) had 17 points and six assists to lead the Wingate attack. Senior guard Chase Smith (Upper Marlboro, Md.) added 11 points, while junior forward Odell Turner (Charlotte, N.C.) had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore forward Deion Turman (Pittsburgh, Pa.) added six points, 11 rebounds and two blocks for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore forward Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) led the Carson-Newman attack with 14 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Marcellous Perez (Jacksonville, N.C.) added nine points and four assists, while sophomore guard Ishmael Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) contributed eight points for the Eagles.
Both teams came out struggling from the field, with the game tied at seven 8:28 into the contest. A jumper from Vaughn and a free throw from junior forward Quan Alexander (Charlotte, N.C.) gave Wingate a 16-11 lead. The Eagles answered with a 12-5 run to take a 23-21 lead in the final minute of the half. Davis started the spurt with a triple, while capping it with a free throw. A steal and layup at the buzzer from Smith tied the game at 23 heading to intermission.
The Bulldogs scored the first four points of the second half and led the rest of the way. Wingate's lead stayed between two and six points for the first 13:40 of the half. After a layup from freshman forward Mike Tyson (Kinston, N.C.) put the 'Dogs on top by six with nine minutes remaining, senior forward Kevin Hare (Lexington, S.C.) answered with a layup to cut the lead back to four. An Alexander jumper was answered by a pair of free throws from freshman guard Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) to again trim Wingate's advantage to four with seven minutes remaining.
Vaughn found Turman for a layup, while Smith added a pair of free throws to push the Wingate lead to eight at 51-43. Davis buried a jumper to get the Eagles to within five at the 3:24 mark. Turner hit a free throw on the other end, while Smith blocked a three-point attempt from Davis, then grabbed the rebound. A layup from Matilus with 1:23 to go made it 56-58. He would then draw a charge, getting the ball back for the Bulldogs in the final minute. Two Vaughn free throws gave the 'Dogs their first double-digit lead at 58-48 with 27 seconds to go.
Wingate shot 45.3 percent from the field on the night, including 51.9 percent shooting in the second half. The Bulldogs hit just two-of-12 shots from three-point range (16.7 percent). Carson-Newman shot 46.5 percent from the field, hitting five-of-14 shots from beyond the arc (35.7 percent). The Bulldogs held a 35-27 rebounding advantage, while out-scoring Carson-Newman 32-22 in the paint and 12-2 in second-chance points.
The Bulldogs advance to the SAC Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive year. Last season, Wingate defeated Catawba to advance to the championship game. The Bulldogs will meet up with the 17th-ranked Railsplitters of Lincoln Memorial Saturday in Hickory. LMU defeated Wingate in the 2011 SAC championship game.