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Villa Maria Tested By Eagles Before Winning 96-84

The Golden Eagles defend the lane against the Vikings.
The Golden Eagles defend the lane against the Vikings.

The USCAA's top ranked D-2 team was warned not to take the Golden Eagles lightly Tuesday evening and Coach Don Silveri's pregame prophecy rang true, as the Navy and Gold's never-say-die attitude was in full affect competing to the very end before falling 96-84 in the Eagles New Philadelphia nest. The Golden Eagles were proud of their effort, but still happy with the game's outcome.

Things started to fall into place very quickly for KSU Tusc as they hit three triples---two by Drew Williams and one by Luke Butcher---as they quickly raced to an 11-6 lead before Villa Maria put on a charge of their own to close the gap and trail 16-15 after a steal and layup wtih 11:42 left in the opening half. The Eagles would not be rattled and handled the eminent Viking full court pressure and staked themseves to a 23-15 lead with two free throws by Jacob Hicks, a basket by Trevor Donaldson and a triple by Gunnar Tharp deep in the corner as the shot clock ran out with 8:03 left.

The Eagles went cold for two minutes and the Vikings capitalized as they scored 12 straight points on a couple of steals and a runout after a missed shot to lead 27-23. The two teams would trade baskets and at one point the visitors led by as many as seven points, 40-33, but each run was ended by a Williams three to draw the Eagles within 37-33 before the half ended on a mini Viking run and the first half ended 46-38. Williams capped off the first half with another triple and made five first half shots from behind the arc.

Villa Maria would open up a 10 point lead to start the final half of play, but Williams and Tharp would hit back-to-back threes to close to within 48-44. The Vikings could not find a way to put the Golden Eagles away and when they manufactured an 11 point advantage, the hosts would get two jumpers in the lane by Jacob Hicks and three pointer by Trevor Donaldson to cut the margin to 68-64 with 11:45 to go. That's when Williams was forced to the bench with his fourth personal foul of the game. Williams reentered the game with 2:43 to play but was immediately whistled for his fifth foul which definitely affected the continuity and long range scoring capability of the Eagles. When the Vikings forged ahead again at 76-65, the Golden Eagles would score seven straight before the teams traded baskets and with 5:10 on the clock the lead stood at 83-77 after two Tharp treys and a layup. A final push by the Vikings widened the lead to 12 and a final score of 96-84. 

For the game the Golden Eagles would convert on 43% of their field goal attempts making 16/37 from behind the three point arc and they had a great night at the charity stripe making 10/12 for 83%. They would also dish out 27 assists for the night, 16 of them in second half as Malik Campbell dished out eight and Luke Butcher shared the ball seven times. Tharp and Williams were the biggest beneficiaries of the baksetball sharing as they scored 24 and 23 points respectively and the two made 13 triples for the game---Williams had seven and Tharp six---as they combined to score 47 or the Golden Eagles 84 points. Campbell and Hicks were also in double digits with 12 points apiece and Hicks had 11 rebounds as well.

Next up for the Golden Eagles is a game on the road at Cincinnati Clermont at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Malik controls the ball in traffic.                                                                                         (Photo by Memories by Lois)

Drew looks for an opening in the Villa Maria defense.                            (Photos by Memories by Lois

Trevor tries the middle and is turned away.     (Photos by Memories by Lois)