BANNER ELK, NC--The Lees-McRae College Bobcats basketball team opened their 2007-08 season Thursday evening, hosting the University of North Carolina-Pembroke Braves at Williams Gymnasium. After falling behind early, the Bobcats managed to battle their way back into the game, but fell 67-61 to the Braves in the season opener for both teams.
The Braves jumped out to an 11-0 lead before the Bobcats got on the board with a three pointer from Aaron Willey (Kingsport, TN). After the Bobcats cut the deficit the four, the Braves called a timeout, and returned to the court with a tight zone on defense. A 12-0 run by the Braves gave the visitors a 23-7 lead before Willey stopped the bleeding with his second three of the game. The Bobcats used an 8-2 run to close the gap to 33-28, but were unable to penetrate the Braves' zone on a consistent basis to grab the lead. The Braves held a 37-31 advantage heading into halftime.
Zachary Honeycutt extended the lead to eight with a field goal just under twenty seconds into the second; however the Bobcats came back strong with a 10-0 run to grab their first and only lead of the contest 41-39. After the Braves regained the lead 43-41, the Bobcats would tie things up once more, but were unable to regain the lead as the Braves pulled away with the help of Everett House' free throw shooting. The Bobcats would send House to the line eight times in the second, with the Braves guard making the most of his opportunity and going seven for eight from the charity stripe.
"Bottom line is that we turned the ball over and shot 34% from the field, that's a bad combination," stated Head Coach Scott Polsgrove. "I thought we showed some good patience with the ball at times and got some great looks we just couldn't capitalize. We battled hard, it was a good effort but you just can't win games turning the ball over and shooting poorly. We'll get better as the season progresses; there were some positives that we can take from this game."
Jarrell Hunter led the Braves with a game high 18 points while John Keimig added 17 and House finished with ten.
Nick DeSchepper (Fishers, IN) led the Bobcats in his first collegiate game, scoring a team high 12 points while Mario McClunie (knoxville, TN) and Modestas Riauka (Kaunas, Lithuania) chipped in with 11 and 10 respectively.
The Bobcats will hit the road this weekend for a non-conference contest against Chowan University before opening Conference Carolinas play against Belmont Abbey next Tuesday at Williams Gymnasium.
PICTURED TOP LEFT: Nick DeSchepper