By Ashley Walls
The Asbury men’s basketball team showed their fans why they were picked No. 2 in the KIAC pre-season polls last Friday. In their 2013 season-opener on Nov. 1, the men’s team came out strong with a 70-62 win over Hiwassee College.
The game opened up with a two-point bucket by senior Lee’Vaughn Morris, but Hiwassee answered with a bucket of their own, giving the fans a glimpse of a close game to come. After that, the score tied three different times, and both teams led often throughout the first half.
Eventually, Hiwassee pulled away from the Eagles with a five-point lead.
With the score at 25-30 and just a little over a minute left of the first half, senior Dakotah Euton put up two points in the paint, only to get fouled. He made the free throw, giving the Eagles their 28th point with a minute left. With two seconds left on the clock, senior Austin Flannery hit a three-pointer, tying the game at 30 as the half-time buzzer ended the half, and the Asbury crowd roared in applause.
The Eagles came out with just as much momentum in the second half. After Morris made a two-point shot to pull Asbury to a one-point lead early in the half, senior Cam Richardson finished a fast break with a dunk, resulting in an erupting crowd. Hiwassee called a time-out, but that didn’t stop the Eagles’ intensity. Points from Morris, Richardson and junior C.J. Penny helped the Eagles go on a 10-1 run to give Asbury the 42-36 lead.
Hiwassee went on a couple of scoring drives of their own, but points by freshman Tyler Smith, sophomore Jordan Gilbert and Flannery helped Asbury keep their steady lead throughout the second half. In a collaborative effort, the Eagles eventually won their first game of the season 70-62. Richardson and Flannery led the team in scoring with 12 points each, while Morris and Penny had 11 and nine, respectively. Flannery and Gilbert each had two three-pointers, while Morris and sophomore Kyle Lamb each added two steals for the Eagles. Morris, Penny and Euton led in rebounds for a combined 23.
Euton said that having so many scorers is what sets this team apart. “We don’t really have a player it has to go to every time,” he said. “This year, we’ve got many different threats on offense and many good defenders.”
Euton also said that this team has something other teams don’t have: belief in each other.
“We’ve never had a team make it to nationals, but we really do believe that this year could be the year we do that,” he said. “We actually believe in each other and the team that we have, and we can achieve that goal of finally taking that next step and making it to nationals.”
The Eagles will play again tonight, Nov. 8, in Frankfort, Ky. when they face Kentucky State University at 7 p.m.