Inexperience bites Chowan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2008

MURFREESBORO, N.C.-Young basketball teams will often play well, then lose focus at critical points in a game. The Chowan University men’s basketball team suffered this fate Wednesday night. With a chance to get back in the game, the Hawks played poorly during a two-minute stretch of the second half and fell to Catawba College 86-77.

It was Chowan’s fifth straight loss and second this year to the Indians (7-4).

Chowan (4-8) had cut the Catawba lead to 65-63 on a 3-pointer by Charles Rhodes with 7:18 to play. But the Hawks slacked off defensively and left Catawba’s Antonio Houston open for two straight 3-pointers to put the lead back to 71-63. Houston scored a game-high 20 points, including 6-of-10 from the 3-point line.

Chowan’s Jaleel Nelson countered with a 3-pointer for Chowan and the Catawba lead was back down to five points.

Then the Hawks fell apart. Rob Fields scored inside for the Indians with 5:57 to play. The Hawks missed four shots on its next possession, despite grabbing three offensive rebounds. Finally, Nelson was fouled, but he missed both free throws with 5 minutes to play.

Catawba’s Isaac Rose tipped one in on the other end to put the Indians up 75-66. Chowan turned the ball over and Catawba’s Cliff Burns scored on the inside again with 4:17 to go up 77-66. Chowan turned the ball over again on its next possession. The Hawks could do no more than trade baskets and free throws the rest of the game. All of this despite outrebounding (42-27) and outshooting the Indians from the floor.

&uot;This is our third game in a row where we have played a real quality opponent and outrebounded and outshot them, and it has always been that two- or three-minute period of time where we turn the ball over and we don’t make very good decisions,&uot; said Jim Tribbett, Chowan head coach. &uot;We show our inexperience, and it comes back to haunt us. You are not going to beat quality teams with poor decisions.&uot;

Tribbett is starting two sophomores and two freshmen and was happy to see the scoring attack spread out. The Hawks had five players in double figures, including 14 by freshman Layth Mansour and 12 by freshman Charles Rhodes. Sophomore Lando Morrison also chipped in 14 points.

Of the 12 games Chowan has played, six have been against teams that reached the NCAA Division II playoffs last season.

&uot;You would be hard-pressed to find another team on the East Coast that has played that difficult a schedule,&uot; Tribbett said.

Chowan hosts Shaw University on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Mars Hill College on Monday at 7:30 p.m.