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Basketball, Men

Benedict trounces Eckerd

Posted on Sun, Mar. 16, 2008

Benedict rolls in NCAA opener

By RAYMOND BEASOCK - Special to The State

LAKELAND, Fla. - Once Benedict got settled, Eckerd didn't stand a chance.

The Tigers overcame an early 12-point deficit and ran away from the Tritons in the second half for a 70-49 victory in the South Region Division II quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Florida Southern College.

Cold shooting and bad defense had the Tigers in a 26-14 hole with 7:11 remaining in the first half. The only saving grace early for No. 2 seed Benedict was the play of freshman Michael Holmes, who scored nine points to keep the Tigers within striking distance.

"They were making their shots and riding the momentum," Benedict coach Fred Watson said. "We had to calm ourselves. We weren't closing out on guys.

"Once we got that under control we were OK."

Marcus Carroll ended a 7:22 drought for the Tigers and sparked a 15-1 run that saw the return of Benedict's touch from the outside and its defense.

Bennie Lewis hit two 3-pointers, and Holmes' tip-in with 1 second left helped the Tigers tie the score at 27 going into halftime.

Benedict (27-4) had no problem with seventh-seeded Eckerd after that.

The Tritons didn't score a point for more than eight minutes spanning the two halves and didn't make a basket for more than 11 minutes.

"Our intensity was high at the start," Eckerd's Chris Gray said. "In the second half, we slipped, and we got off our keys."

The Tigers capitalized in the second half.

Lewis' hot hand continued into the second half as he hit two more 3-pointers and provided a highlight-reel, behind-the-back, two-handed dunk over Eckerd's Josh King that gave the Tigers a 56-41 lead with 3:29 left.

"We knew if we locked down on defense, our offense would kick in," Lewis said. "We knew we were going to go on a run, and when our offense kicked in, they couldn't keep up with us."

Holmes led the Tigers with 19 points and Lewis contributed 18.

Benedict will play the winner of No. 3 Tampa and No. 6 Harding at 5 p.m. today for a chance to advance to Tuesday's South Region final.

Source: The State Newspaper

SEE ALSO Basketball Summaries

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