Hawks lose at buzzer in hoops opener

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MURFREESBORO, N.C.—A last-second shot by Queens University’s John Thompson spoiled the basketball season opener for Chowan University as the Royals dumped the Hawks 74-73 in a thriller at the Helms Center.

The last 38 seconds of the ball game saw the teams trade the lead four times. With 38 seconds to play, Chowan’s Layth Mansour was fouled by Thompson. Mansour, who was 0-for-5 from the foul line up to that point, sunk both free throws to give the Hawks a 71-70 lead.

On the other end, Darnell Evans was fouled by Chowan’s Raul Tutelea on a drive with 20.8 seconds to play. Evans hit both free throws and the lead changed to 72-71 in favor of Queens.

Chowan worked the ball down the court and again took the lead when Jaleel Nelson, a native of Suffolk, saw an opening and drove to the hoop for a 73-72 advantage with 9 seconds to play.

The Hawks then made two nice defensive plays to slow the Queens offense. Nelson swatted an inbounds pass out of bounds with 6.5 seconds to play, and Montino Williams blocked a shot by Reggie Hopkins out of bounds with 1.2 seconds to play. Andre Lockhart took the inbounds pass and lofted a rainbow to Thompson, who flicked the shot in near the buzzer for the 74-73 Queens victory.

Chowan led 34-29 at the half and controlled the tempo of the game for most of the first 20 minutes. The Hawks’ defense clamped down and held Queens to just 34 percent shooting from the floor. But Chowan came out flat and opened the second half shooting just 1-for-12 from the floor. A slam dunk on a breakaway by Nelson finally got the crowd back into the game with 14:28 left on the clock. High scorer Aaron Scott almost singlehandedly kept the Hawks in the game in the second half with 14 of his 24 points coming in the final 13 minutes.

Chowan head coach Jim Tribbett knew Queens would be a tough opponent coming into the game. The Royals were 20-10 last year and played in the NCAA Division II tournament. Tribbett was pleased that his young team, which includes two freshman starters, was able to hang with the more experienced Royals.

&uot;If you looked at critical points in the game, I had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the floor. They were playing with 11 returners on a team that won 20 and went to the NCAA (tournament),&uot; Tribbett said. &uot;It’s about that swagger and that feel. They think this is their year. I think this is a good measure of what we have and what we need to do.&uot;

Free-throw shooting is one aspect the Hawks need to work on. Chowan shot just 62.5 percent from the foul line and had six more chances from the foul line than Queens.

&uot;We’ll learn from this. We’ll get better. It’s going to be a fun team to watch play,&uot; Tribbett said.

Nelson finished the game with 13 points and Mansour chipped in 10 points for the Hawks (0-1).

After a Saturday home game against Lees McRae, the Hawks hit the road for five straight games before coming back to Murfreesboro for a 7:30 p.m. tilt against Mount Olive on Dec. 13.