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First-place Benedict feeling no Paine

Posted on Wed, Feb. 01, 2006

First-place Benedict feeling no Paine
Win gives Tigers three-game lead over their nearest SIAC pursuers
By JOHN DEVLIN
Special to The State

Benedict College ran its winning streak to 14 games and expanded its lead in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to three games with a 72-60 win against second-place Paine on Thursday.

“We were focused and we were ready to play,” said Tigers coach Fred Watson, whose team improved to 14-3 overall, 13-0 in SIAC play.

Balanced scoring, balanced rebounding and team defense were Benedict’s winning themes against the visiting Lions.

Taiwan Byrd and freshman Zachary Baron shared scoring honors with 15 points apiece, and Baron grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Tigers also received double-digit contributions from point guards Leslie Brown (11 points) and Malik McCullough (10).

Their performance kept Benedict from missing a beat even though scoring leader Josh Obiajunwa suffered through a 2-for-16 shooting night.

“We don’t really rely on any one guy for scoring, and that showed tonight,” Watson said. “Josh struggled with his shot tonight, but he contributed in other ways. We have a lot of depth and a lot of guys who can at any given time come in and play big for us.”

Obiajunwa, who entered with a scoring average of 12.6 points per game, finished with eight points but grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out three assists.

Defensively, the Tigers hounded the highest-scoring team in the conference into a .361 shooting night.

“Our game plan was to lock down defensively, force some turnovers and get out in transition,” said Watson. “We did that well early in the game, and that seemed to set the tone of the game.”

Paine, which led once, early in the game, kept the Tigers in sight until Joel Brown buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key that launched a 22-9 run over the final 8:41 of the first half. Benedict led 44-31 at halftime.

The Lions (12-5, 10-3) pulled as close as six points in the second half, mustering an 8-0 run that cut the Benedict advantage to 52-46 with 12:29 to go.

But McCullough’s 3-pointer under pressure from the left wing restored order for the Tigers.

Source: The State Newspaper

SEE ALSO Game Statistics (PDF)