Thursday, February 16, 2006
By CLAUDE VINSON
Whenever these two schools get together, it is always a hotly debated issue. There is always a packed house shortly after the doors are open for Rust versus Lemoyne-Owen.
For years the bragging rights for the season hinge on these home and home games. The trick is for the same school to win both contests. No matter the rest of the records, this is the most prized.
The Lady Bearcats were coming off a loss at Blue Mountain a couple of days before. The Lady Magicians got the early lead on February 4 and were battling to hold on to it.
They kept the pressure on Rust and constantly rushed the basket, turning their lead margin to 15 by the time the first intermission came. The Lady Bearcats were not connecting on most of their shots.
The halftime respite did them a world of good because from the minute they hit the floor in the second half, they attacked. They found the range and hit the nylon time and time again until Jantre Smith pulled them to within two with eight minutes left.
The highly partisan crowd was feeling the spirit of the rivalry when Smith came back and put them ahead with a trey. But they failed to stop the Lady Magician shooter who duplicated. Three points behind, Helen Wright drove the lane, hit and was fouled. She tied it with the old fashioned three.
The lead changed hands a few more times but it was tied again at 66.
Audrey Adams went to the charity stripe with a one-point lead and 1:21 left in the game. Adams canned one and missed the other. There were 28 seconds left and Rust had a one-point lead. There was controversy over a call which benefitted LeMoyne-Owen and they knotted it again at 72. The Lady Magicians picked up one more at the foul line.
With a clamoring crowd, Adams launched a long, looping trey that caught glass and went cleanly through the nylon. There were four tenths of a second showing on the clock.
The Lady Bearcats had avenged the earlier loss with the 75-73 win.
LaDetra Bridges had a high of 22 for the Lady Bearcats, Wright had 14, Smith had 13 and Adams had 12. For the Lady Magicians, it was S. Harlan with 23, Deanna Jennings with 18 and Latisha Johnson with 10.
The Bearcats and the Magicians hit the court burning rubber. Five into the game and LeMoyne led 11-7. The score was tied by Michael Taylor a little later, but the Magicians used a little slight of hand and a reverse lay-up to go four points. A battle royal waged under the Magicians basket on every trip. The Bearcats were still hanging tight at 32 all at the break.
The second half was similar to the first, plenty of speed and lots of defense. The Bearcats drew even with a breakaway lay-in by Lamont Keaton. Going towards single digits on the clock, the Magicians slowed the tempo.
The Bearcats Ryan Rodriguez was whistled for a tech. He redeemed himself with a pair of deuces and brought the Bearcats back to par at 64.
Less than three minutes left and LeMoyne had eked out a three-point lead, this one was headed to the wire. If the rivalry under the basket was intense before, it had now become fierce. Taylor gave Rust a two-point lead on a trey which made it 80-78.
They didnt stop the ball and the Magicians hit the nylon again with a trey and then connected at the foul line for one more.
The Bearcats had the ball and Keaton was driving. At the time he left his feet for a three that went in, his bench had called time. They had one try after the play resumed and the ball was lost out of bounds. The Magicians had won the return game also with an 82-80 score.
Morris Red led the Bearcat effort with 21, Ryan Rodriguez had 19 and Keaton had 16.
LeMoyne also had three in double figures, Tyrell Curry with 22, Adrian Pritchett with 21 and Cedric Walker with 18.
The legendary Jerry Johnson who had coached the Magicians for decades, retired last April. The new head coach is David Smokey Gaines.
Rust teams close the regular season with home games against Oakwood College Thursday (Feb. 16) and Fisk University Saturday (Feb. 18).
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