Fleet hold off Bobcats, 68-56, in defensive battle

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Erskine College men's basketball team weathered a late 12-4 run and a stifling defensive effort by Lees-McRae College en route to a hard-fought 68-56 victory over the Bobcats in Conference Carolinas play on Thursday evening in Williams Gymnasium.

Lees-McRae (1-15, 1-9 CC) posted a field goal percentage of 44.2 percent in the contest, including a 54.2 percent clip in the second half, while holding Erskine (11-4, 7-4 CC) to a mark of 34.5 percent from the floor on the night. The Bobcats won the battle on the glass by a 38-35 margin, including a 28-23 advantage on the defensive boards, as Erskine converted 23-of-27 attempts from the charity stripe.

Charles Clarke (Orlando, Fla.) paced the Bobcats with 16 points off the bench, connecting on 5-of-7 attempts from the floor while converting each of his four tries at the free throw line. Daniel Sepokas (Illawong, Australia) added 14 markers with a 3-for-5 night from downtown, while posting a team-high eight rebounds to go along with contest-bests of three assists and three steals.

DeAndre Tillman (Charlotte, N.C.) added a strong night with six rebounds, five points, and a pair of emphatic blocks, as Jeremiah Henry (Semmes, Ala.) added nine markers and four boards.

Roderick Perkins led the way for Erskine with a game-high 18 points, converting each of his 10 attempts at the charity stripe, while adding seven rebounds and a contest-best three assists. DeShaun Hall chipped in a double-double with 16 markers and a game-high 10 boards, as Corey Sorrell and Mike Gabbard each posted 12 points.

The first half would prove to be a tightly contested defensive battle, with Erskine snatching an early 7-5 lead before the Bobcats responded with a 6-0 spurt, claiming an 11-7 advantage following a Clarke throw-down with 10:02 left to play in the period.

Erskine answered with a 10-2 spurt, taking a 17-13 lead with a pair of Perkins freebies with 4:18 remaining on the clock. Hall then capped the period's scoring with a layup at the 1:00 mark, sending the Fleet into the intermission with a 21-16 advantage as the Bobcats held Erskine to its second-lowest-scoring first half of the season.

Both offenses came to life in the second half, combing for 87 points in the period as each team connected on over 50 percent of their field goal attempts in the period. The Bobcats would strike first, opening the half with a 7-3 spurt to cut the margin to 24-23 following a freebie by Henry at the 17:03 mark.

Erskine answered with a 13-2 run, pushing the advantage to 37-25 on a Corey Sorrell lay-in with 12:37 to play. The Fleet would widen the margin to 49-30 before the Bobcats responded, cutting the lead to 56-42 when DJ Brown (Anderson, S.C.) set up Tillman for an emphatic alley-oop dunk on the fast break, which brought Williams Gymnasium to its feet with 4:24 left on the clock.

The Bobcats continued to whittle away at the lead over the next several minutes, cutting the lead to 64-49 on a Sepokas triple in the midst of a 12-4 run to close out the game, as Sepokas capped the night with his third trey of the contest with 11 seconds to play.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday when the Bobcats travel to Belmont, N.C. to take on Belmont Abbey College in conference play at 7:30 p.m.

- LMC -