The Spring Hill College men's basketball team took a 74-62 conference win over the Faulkner University Eagles at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center on Saturday evening to maintain the top spot by half a game over Belhaven University (10-11, 5-5 SSAC) in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) West Division.
The Eagles (9-10, 2-7 SSAC) scored the game's first five points, but from that point on the Badgers controlled the action and built out as much as an 11-point advantage with a minute left to play in the half following a 3-point bucket by sophomore guard Todd Martin of Mobile's St. Paul's Episcopal School that made it 27-16 in favor of SHC.
Senior point guard Tyler Schwab staked the Badgers to a 30-20 halftime lead when he sank a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc with just five seconds showing on the scoreboards.
The second half open much as the first half closed when senior guard Stephen Burches of Hammond, La., began a Badger run with a 3-pointer followed by a two point jumper and the home standing Badgers' cushion grew to 16-points at 37-21 just a minute and a half in to the period.
With 10 minutes left the Badgers appeared to be in cruise control by holding a 19-point bulge at 54-35, but the Eagles refused to call it a night and whittled the score down to 70-62 with just under a minute to play. However, six consecutive free throws - four by Martin and two by Schwab - stomped out any hopes of a comeback by Faulkner.
SHC freshman center Jake Thelen of Edgewood, Ky., led all scorers with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Martin contributed 16 points, including a 10-of-10 night at the charity stripe.
The Badgers shot 42.6% (23-54) from the field, 46.7% (7-15) from behind the 3-point line and were 80.8% (21-26) at the free throw line. Spring Hill suffered 18 turnovers against an opportunistic full-court pressure by Faulkner that took away 13 steals. The Badgers dominated the boards with a 43-29 advantage in rebounding.
Faulkner was paced by Adam Okechukwu with 14 points while Jake Mitchell and Chris Palmore each had 13 points. The Eagles shot 37.5% (21-56) from the field and were 6-of-24 (25%) from 3-point range. The Eagles lost 13 turnovers against just three steals by Spring Hill.
Spring Hill (10-6, 5-4 SSAC) will next host arch-rival the University of Mobile Rams (8-11, 4-5 SSAC) at the 7:30 p.m. in a conference match on Thursday at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.