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Second-half run pushes Montreat past Milligan

Jeff Birchfield • Dec 5, 2018 at 9:52 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Milligan College played Montreat even for 38 of the 40 minutes in Wednesday night's men’s basketball game at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse. It was the other two minutes that led to the Buffaloes' defeat.

Tied at 49, the No. 25-ranked Cavaliers scored 10 unanswered points to grab the lead in the Appalachian Athletic Conference contest. Montreat never trailed from that point on, taking a 73-63 win over the Buffs.

Montreat improved to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference standings. Milligan fell to 6-5 and 3-4.

"We went through a stretch where we couldn't score," Milligan coach Bill Robinson said. "Our defense kept us in it all night. If you told me beforehand, we hold them to 73 points, I say we win that game. But, we have to find ways to score, somebody other than Aaron Levarity."

Levarity, a senior forward who is the team's leading scorer for the season, led the Buffs with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Tyler Nichols, a former Elizabethton High School standout, finished with 13 points, but no other Milligan player hit double figures.

The Buffs, who led 31-28 at the half, struggled from long range, hitting just 4 of 18 behind the 3-point line. They also missed some shots right at the basket, including a layup after they had cut the deficit to just four points with a little over a minute left in the game.

"We missed a bunch of bunnies," Robinson said. "They're contested shots, but those are shots you have to make. One thing I learned early on as a coach is that you have to have players and they have to make plays. We didn't make enough plays tonight."

The Cavaliers, who were held to 43 percent from the field, were more aggressive driving to the basket. It led to them making 22 of 32 free-throw attempts, to just 9 of 14 for Milligan.

Jerron Hemphill had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Montreat, which also got 16 points from Nicodemus Payne as well as 15 from Terrell Sheffey and 10 from Daniel Vitiello.

Although a setback, it's still early in the season as Robinson pointed out the Buffs are at the same point as this time last year when they rallied to make the NAIA national tournament.

"We're not where we want to be right now," Robinson said. "Last year, we found ourselves in a similar situation, but we found our way and it played out. But right now, we definitely have to find some ways to play better."

WOMEN

Milligan 64, Montreat 57

Led by Sarah Robinson with 15 points and 10 rebounds, the No. 25 Lady Buffs overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to remain undefeated at 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.

Down 27-18 at the half and later 30-20, Milligan rallied to take a 35-34 lead with 3:37 left in the third. They didn't let up, running their own lead to nine points before ending with a seven-point win.

"One of the things we talked about was believing in each other," Milligan coach Rich Aubrey said. "We were 1-for-17 in the first half. We were 5-for-9 in the second half. We had different people step up and take shots. It was a matter of just hard work.

Besides Robinson's double-double, Andi Lamb scored 14 points and Emma Kate Brown ended with 12.

Aliyah Thomas paced Montreat with 18 points, followed by Jala Daniels with 16.

"They were dictating the pace of the game," Aubrey said. "I'm glad we were able to hang tough and come through."

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