TIGERVILLE, SC- The packed crowd in Hayes Gymnasium was treated to a hard-nosed, hard-fought game by North Greenville and Tusculum. Tusculum won the turnover battle and was able to hold on for a 59-56 victory. Pioneer guard Matt Farus led all scorers with 17. Jordan Richmond led the Crusaders with 15, while Daniel Morbitzer came off the bench to add 10. Josh Burgess hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds for North Greenville.
The two teams stayed within 3 points of each other for the first 10 minutes before Bob Richey gave North Greenville a five point lead with 9:47 remaining in the first half. The Crusaders consistently built upon that lead to make the score 38-30 at halftime.
Tuscululm opened the second half with a 12-5 run to pull within one point at 43-42. Victor Duck stopped the bleeding with a jumper at the 13:01 mark and gave North Greenville a three point cushion. The Crusaders would get up by 5 points before Tusculum came back and took the lead on a layup by Jordan Lear with 7:52 left in the ballgame. North Greenville would tie the game with just under two minutes left on a free throw by Andrew Nipper. Fifty-three seconds later, Farus put a three-point dagger through the hearts of the Crusader faithful and gave the Pioneers a 57-54 lead. North Greenville would pull within one point on a layup by Richmond, but two free throws by Donald Sexton sealed the 59-56 victory.
The story of the game was turnovers. North Greenville turned the ball over 19 times to Tusculum's 12. Tusculum more than doubled North Greenville in points off turnovers, holding a 22-110 advantage. The Crusaders, however, did hold an edge in bench points 16-6 and points in the paint 38-26.
"We certainly had an opportunity to win the ballgame," said North Greenville coach Chad Lister. "I thought we did a nice job defensively."
"Our achilles' heel is turnovers and giving away possessions," said Lister. " We will be tough to beat when we correct that."
While they turned the ball over at times and did not come away with the win, the Crusaders proved to be a tough team. "Its not a matter of heart," says Lister. "We played with great heart and toughness. We were in great condition which is a tribute to [assistant coach] Rob Warren and out training staff."
The Crusaders fall to 0-1, but will look to even that record Thursday night against Brevard. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Hayes Gymnasium.