MISENHEIMER, N.C. --- The Pfeiffer University men's basketball team outscored visiting Lees-McRae College by a 54-40 margin in the first half, and held off a furious second-half rally by the Bobcats en route to a narrow 87-83 victory in Conference Carolinas play on Tuesday evening.
Pfeiffer (1-4, 1-1 CC) shot 42.9 percent from the floor on the night, including a 46.9 percent clip in the first half, while holding Lees-McRae (0-5, 0-2 CC) to a field goal percentage of 39.7 percent in the contest. The Falcons won the battle on the glass by a 47-40 margin, including a 34-26 advantage on the defensive boards, as Lees-McRae posted a field goal percentage of 47.2 percent in the second half to nearly overcome the halftime deficit.
The Bobcats placed five players in double figures, as Daniel Sepokas (Illawong, Australia) led the team with 19 points, eight assists, and five rebounds, while pouring in 13 markers to spark the Bobcats' second half rally.DJ Brown (Anderson, S.C.) added 13 points with four three-pointers, while Charles Clarke (Orlando, Fla.) and Asad Lamot (Mebane, N.C.) each tallied 12 markers. Lamot also chipped in seven assists and a game-high four steals, as Jeremiah Henry (Semmes, Ala.) posted 10 points.
Tayron Gibson and Josh Humphrey each poured in a game-high 23 points to pace the Falcons, as Humphrey added a double-double with a contest-best 11 rebounds. Jerod Wallace chipped in 14 points with an 8-for-10 night from the charity stripe, while Joe Ledbetter posted nine rebounds.
Pfeiffer never trailed in the contest, jumping out to an early 12-5 lead in the first half on a Kirkpatrick layup at the 17:42 mark. The Bobcats answered with a 9-3 spurt, closing the gap to 15-14 on a Brown triple after Clarke kick-started the run with a clutch three-point play.
Sepokas would even the tally at 16-16 with a layup before Pfeiffer responded, taking a 41-19 advantage with a 25-3 surge that was capped by a four-point play by Gibson with 7:44 left on the clock. The Bobcats countered with a 14-2 run of their own, cutting the lead to 43-33 following a Juan Urbina (Barquisimeto, Venezuela) jumper with 3:32 to go after Brown knocked down a clutch three-pointer.
Pfeiffer answered once again with an 11-7 spurt, stretching the margin to 54-40 at the intermission after Henry capped the half with a last-second layup.
The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second half, opening the frame with a 17-6 surge to cut the lead to 60-57 following a layup by James Saint Marc (Tampa, Fla.) off a nifty pass from Sepokas with 15:10 to play. Lees-McRae would stay within striking distance for the next several minutes, answering a 10- 2 Pfeiffer run with a 10-4 spurt of its own to trim the gap to 77-72 following a three-point play by Sepokas with 4:05 left on the clock.
After Pfeiffer stretched the lead to 80-72 and Brown countered with his fourth trey of the night, Humphrey answered with a clutch three-point play with less than two minutes to play to push the margin to 83-75. The Bobcats battled back, closing the gap to 85-80 following a pair of Lamot free throws after Clarke converted a clutch three-point play with 33 ticks left on the clock.
Clarke then made perhaps his most critical play of the game with 25 seconds left, forcing a Falcon turnover in the backcourt to give the Bobcats a chance to make it a one possession game. Lamot did just that with 12 ticks remaining on the clock, knocking down a three-pointer to cut the lead to 85-83.
The Bobcats fouled immediately following the inbound, sending Wallace to the charity stripe with just nine second left. Wallace would deliver for the Falcons, converting both free throws to widen the gap to 87-83. Pfeiffer then sealed the victory on the defensive end, forcing a turnover with less than five seconds left to close out the win.
Lees-McRae returns to the court after the Thanksgiving holiday on Tuesday, November 27, when the Bobcats host Barton College at 7:30 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium.
- LMC -