The Spring Hill College men's basketball team picked up their first win of the 2013-14 season and broke a 15-game losing skid with an 81-76 non-conference win over the Tennessee Temple University Crusaders on Thursday night at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.
Spring Hill trailed the Crusaders (7-5) by a 23-18 margin after 10 minutes of play, but a 13-5 run by the Badgers highlighted by 3-point buckets by senior Alex Looney, sophomore Jarrett Calhoun and sophomore Wesley Pietri gave the home team a 31-23 cushion just four minutes later.
The Badger lead would balloon out to 16 points at 46-30 just before the half when junior forward Frederick Gatson would drain another 3-pointer from the top of the key as the intermission buzzer sounded.
Tennessee Temple would not make the first Badger win of the season easy, however, as the Crusaders came out the locker room ready to play and quickly cut their deficit down to eight points at 53-45 just seven minutes into the 2nd half. SHC shooting also cooled off from their blistering 59.3% (16-27) in the 1st half allowing the Crusaders to claw back into the game.
By the six-minute mark, the Badgers held a razor thin 68-66 margin and it looked as if the Crusaders would extend the SHC dry spell by yet another loss. Spring Hill, nevertheless, responded with a critical 3-pointer by Pietri to regain the momentum. Temple would cut it back down to two-point margin at 73-71 with three minutes to play, but SHC refused to let this opportunity slip away and used two free throws and a two-point bucket by Looney to retake a six-point advantage with less than two minutes to go.
Over the final frantic 30 seconds, Calhoun came down with two critical offensive rebounds that led to four consecutive free throws by the Troy University transfer and senior guard Ty McCants to push the Badger lead out to 80-73 with less than 20 seconds to play.
Gatson paced the Spring Hill with 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds while Looney added 15 points and Pietri pumped in another 12 points. SHC shot a season-high 56.9% (29-51) from the floor including 42.9% 6-14 from 3-point range. The Badgers won the rebounding battle with a 34-31 advantage under the boards, but lost 16 turnovers against six Crusader steals.
Temple was led by Elliot Johnson with 16 points while Hampton Mack and Rashaud Bell each had 15 points. TTU shot 38.8% (26-67) overall and 31.6% (6-19) from behind the arc. The Crusaders suffered just seven turnovers versus three steals by Spring Hill.
The Badgers (1-10) will next play an exhibition contest at NCAA Division 1 member Southeastern Louisiana University (3-6) on Monday, December 30, at the University Center in Hammond, La., beginning at 7 p.m.