The Spring Hill College men's basketball team opened the head coaching tenure of Aaron Niven with a hard-fought 69-66 non-conference loss to Dalton State College on Wednesday night at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.
The Badgers held a slim 34-33 lead over the Roadrunners (1-0) at halftime, but fell down by a four-point 50-46 margin with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Spring Hill rallied to take a three-point lead at 55-52 off a 3-point bucket by sophomore Wesley Pietri at the 7:45 mark only to fall behind by four points when former Badger Ricky Sears scored on a layup followed by Preston Earle's steal and fast break layup with four minutes on the clock.
Down by one with 10 seconds on the clock, the Badgers benefited from two missed free throws by the Roadrunners' Raheem Mosley, but a 3-pointer by Spring Hill's Ty McCants rebounded high off the rim and caught the support for the backboard, giving DSC the ball with .7 seconds showing. Sean Tate then sank two free throws on the other end for Dalton State and a final Hail Mary attempt by junior Frederick Gatson was unsuccessful as DSC held on for the 69-66 win.
Spring Hill was paced by Gatson with 15 points and 13 rebounds while senior Alex Looney added 12 points. As a team, SHC shot 43.8% (28-64) from the field including a 5-of-17 (29.4%) performance from the 3-point line. The Badgers out rebounded the Roadrunners 51 to 35, but hurt themselves with 25 turnovers off 16 DSC steals. Dalton State, on the other hand, suffered just 12 turnovers in the face of five Badger thefts.
Demetrice Jacobs and Sears each scored 17 points with Jacobs also pulling in 11 rebounds for the Roadrunners.
The Badgers (0-1) next travel to New Orleans, La., to face non-conference opponent the Southern University-New Orleans (SUNO) Knights on Saturday at 4 p.m. in The Castle.