01/05/2013 – For the second time this week the men's basketball team was victorious over a NAIA ranked opponent. The Saints defeated the sixth ranked Panthers of Davenport in overtime 84-79. The win coupled with their home win against Cornerstone moved the Saints into a three way tie for sixth place in the WHAC. The Saints are now 7-10 on the season and 5-4 in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference, while the Panthers fell to 7-2 in league play and to 14-3 overall.
The Saints, who have won four of their last five contests, seem to clicking on all cylinders at the start of 2013. Aquinas broke open a close contest by closing the first half on a 20-2 run. The outburst gave the Saints some breathing room heading into the locker room (39-22). Aquinas out shot Davenport 54%-27% in the first half and their offensive production included seven makes from beyond the three point line.
The cushion did not have enough padding as the Panthers regrouped at the half and rattled off 17 consecutive points to start the second half. The game was now tied at 39 with just over 13 minutes to play. Davenport's 32-6 attempted knockout run led them to a 54-45 advantage with 8:49 to play and had the Saints on the ropes. A quick thirty second time out by Coach Hammer calmed the Saints down and helped them refocus. Aquinas methodically crept back into the game and found themselves knotted with the Panthers at 62-62 with 3:32 remaining in regulation.
The game remained tight over the games final minutes. A pair of clutch free throws by Brandon Walker helped secure a tie (69-69) at the end of 40 minutes of play. The game remained close throw the extra five minutes of play with neither team giving in. The tide turned on a old fashioned three point play by Zach Eddy. Zach's layup and free throw conversion gave the Saints a one point lead with less than a minute to play. Aquinas then salted the game away from the charity stripe as the Saints converted all six of their attempts in the games waning moments. The defense did the rest as the Saints limited the Panthers to one basket down the stretch.
The Saints victory was spearheaded by the fine play of Austin Semple. Semple's 27 points included six makes from "trey land". The Saints also received a workman-like effort from Zach Eddy. Eddy's double-double (13 points/12 rebounds) keyed the upset victory for the Saints. Brett Pfahler and Connor McCane also reached double figure scoring as the pair contributed 15 and 11 respectively. JaVontae Ford paced the Panthers with 19 points.
The Saints will look to stay perfect in 2013 as they host Lawrence Tech (2-15, 1-8) on Wednesday at the Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center.