Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tigerville, S.C.—North Greenville snapped a three game conference skid on Saturday afternoon, earning an eventful 71-69 win over the Flying Fleet of Erskine College.

The Fleet shot 53 percent from the floor in the first half of Monday's league contest, the third team to do so in the month of January. Erskine's hot start from the floor earned the fleet an eight point lead as the two teams headed to half time. The Crusaders shot 45 percent from the floor in the opening period, but turned the ball over seven times, leading to 15 Erskine points.

The Fleet continued to put the pressure on North Greenville in the second half. A 14-4 run in the opening minutes of period two would extend Erskine's lead to 16, with 13:44 left on the clock. The Fleet would continue to milk its double-digit until North Greenville was finally able to find a run with just over eight minutes left in the game. The Crusaders put together a 15-2 run that lasted three minutes, evening the score for the first time since the first half. It would be a fight to the final buzzer from that point on.

The final three minutes of the game would include three lead changes and three ties, as the two teams battled for the conference win. Spencer Reaves, who finished the game with 19 points, hit a 10 foot jumper with 1:21 left in the game, evening the score for the final time, at 69-69. Both teams would fail to score in their next possession, but a turnover by NGU with 42 seconds left would give Erskine the ball with a chance to take the lead, leaving North Greenville with little time left on the clock.

The Fleet would inbound the ball and set up at the top of the key, running the clock down to seven seconds before Erskine's Chris Grandy would attack the rim but his dunk attempt would be contested by two NGU defenders, leading to a miss and a rebound for NGU, who then pushed the ball up the court in transition. Spencer Reaves would gain possession of ball at the top of the arch on NGU's offensive end, extending a pass to forward Phil Brown who converted a layup with 1.4 seconds left, giving the Crusaders a 71-69 lead. The Flying Fleet would throw their inbounds pass down court, but the pass would be intercepted by Korval McElroy as the clock ticked down to zero.

Brown finished the game with 21 points to lead North Greenville, the final two proving to be the most important for the Crusaders. He also gathered eight rebounds and forced two steals. Korval McElroy also turned a double-digit performance, with 16 points. NGU's big men dominated under the basket on Saturday, outscoring Erskine 34-18 in the paint. NGU also collected 28 rebounds as a team compared to 26 for Erskine.

The Crusaders improved to 10-5 on the season, after Saturday's win, and kept pace in the Conference Carolinas race, currently sitting in fourth place behind Barton, Mount Olive, and King University. North Greenville will host the 18th ranked Trojans on Monday night at 7:30 pm in Hayes Gymnasium.