BANNER ELK, NC--The Lees-McRae College Bobcats topped the Erskine College Flying Fleet 74-69 in Conference Carolinas action Monday evening at Williams Gymnasium. The win snaps a nine game losing streak for the Bobcats, improving their record to 3-14 (2-9 Conference Carolinas), while the Flying Fleet move to 5-11 (2-8).
The Fleet started out strong, opening with a 6-0 run in the game's first minute. After trading a pair of three pointers, the Bobcats clawed their way to within one, 12-11. Trading field goals once again, the teams remained within one until the Fleet turned things up, doubling the Bobcats with a 19-8 run to hold a twelve point cushion, 34-22.
With 4:33 to play in the half, freshman Aaron Woodacre (Piney Flats, TN) and classmate Nick DeSchepper (Fishers, IN) cut the lead in half with back to back field goals from beyond the arc. DeSchepper drew the foul on the play and completed the four point play to cut the deficit to five. The Bobcats used the three pointers to steal the momentum, gaining the lead for the first time with just over two minutes to play, and heading into recess up four, 41-37.
With neither team willing to give an inch, the Fleet and Bobcats again traded field goals through the first five minutes of the second, with the visitors regaining the lead, 52-50, at 15:18. Blake Carr (Seymour, TN) completed a four point play of his to regain the lead for the Bobcats only to see Brandon Wright (Goose Creek, SC) knot the score at 54 for the game's first tie. The Fleet then went on a 8-0 run to go up 62-54, however once again the tide would change, and the Bobcats would respond with their own eight point run to tie things up at 62 with 4:17 to play.
After trading three pointers, freshman Aaron Willey (Kingsport, TN) put the Bobcats up for good making a pair of free throws off a James Fraley (Greenville, SC) foul with 2:41 to play. On the ensuing Fleet possession, Fraley was once again whistled for the foul, sending Willey back to the line. Willey split his attempts from the charity stripe to give the Bobcats the three point advantage with 2:32 play.
Nick Riley (Stone Mountain, GA) pulled the visitors to within one, with the Fleet following up with a huge defensive stop with just under two minutes to play. The Fleet looked to Riley once again and he delivered, draining a short jumper with 1:31 on the clock.
After Woodacre's field goal attempt rattled off the rim, the Bobcats were forced to foul. With fouls to give, DeSchepper forced the Fleet into an inbounds passing situation, allowing Willey to steal the ball and find senior Mario McClunie (Knoxville, TN) breaking up floor for the lay-up and the lead, 70-69.
TJ Taylor's (Gastonia, NC) field goal attempt was rebounded by Willey who quickly moved the ball to McClunie in an attempt to kill as much time as possible. McClunie drew the foul with nine seconds to play and sank both from the charity stripe to put the home side up three.
Then Victor Street, Jr. (Rock Hill, SC) was forced to the sideline as he raced up the floor, stepping out of bounds and turning the ball over with seven seconds to play. The Bobcats inbounded to Willey who was sent to the line and made both free throws to give the Bobcats a little more breathing room at 74-69.
The Fleet still had fight left in them, giving the ball to Street as he looked to redeem himself as time wound down, however Street was called for a double dribble, giving the ball back to the Bobcats with five seconds to play. The Bobcats would make a couple of quick passes off the inbounds to kill the clock and get back into the win column for the first time since early December.
"I am proud of the character this team displayed tonight. We battled tooth and nail from start to finish to earn this one," commented Head Coach Scott Polsgrove after the game. "This was the second game in a row we played with poise and determination in the final minutes; it's certainly nice to be on the winning end this time around. This team has a great deal of potential, and I think they're starting to realize that when they put in a full forty minutes they can compete with anyone."
Woodacre led the way for the Bobcats with 18 points while Hairston and DeSchepper added 16 and 10 respectively. Brandon Wright led the way for the Fleet with a game high 29 points, 27 of which came from behind the arc. Riley and Taylor also scored in double digits, dropping 16 and 13 respectively.
The Bobcats held a slight advantage in field goal percentage going 23-51 (45.1%) with the Fleet going 26-58 (44.8%). The visitors won the battle on the boards, edging the Bobcats 32-31.
The Bobcats will return to action Thursday evening, hosting Anderson University at Williams Gymnasium. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.
PICTURED TOP LEFT: Aaron Woodacre
PICTURED BOTTOM LEFT: Aaron Willey