02/02/09 — Gators down Dawgs

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Gators down Dawgs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 2, 2009 1:46 PM

PRINCETON -- Ball control and offensive boards.

Spring Creek turned those two factors into their favor in the second half and nipped Princeton 45-42 in a Class 1-A Carolina Conference boys' basketball contest Friday evening.

The Gators swept the regular-season series against the Bulldawgs and remained in contention for one of the league's four postseason berths.

"The boards were big for us (in the fourth quarter), but I think the biggest thing was our ball control," said Spring Creek head coach Taylor Jones. "We didn't turn the ball over much. I was very proud of that."

Princeton committed 13 second-half turnovers and yielded too many second-chance scoring opportunities.

"You can't have that many turnovers against a team that's even with you," said Bulldawgs coach Jeff Davis. "They didn't score but 45 points, but they got so many more shots than we did. You just can't win like that."

Melvin DeVeaux led a balanced Gators' offense with 14 points. Backcourt mate Anthony Green added 10 points. The frontcourt tandem of sophomore Kenneth Freeman and senior Lucas Potter scored nine and eight points, respectively.

Andre Nixon emerged Princeton's offensive leader with 13 points. T.J. Wilson scored nine points and point guard David Gurganus ended up with just five assists, including one in the second half.

Gurganus penetrated the Gators' defense in the opening half and dished out four assists. Nixon, Kameron Harrison and Wilson benefited from the passes as the Bulldawgs built a 27-22 advantage at halftime.

Spring Creek cleaned up its defense at the break.

The Gators clogged the middle and denied the passing lanes, which prevented Gurganus from finding an open seam to drive or hand off to a teammate in the second half.

"Communication was something we talked about at halftime on screens," said Jones. "We did a better job of helpside defense and understanding where he was at all times (in the second half)."

DeVeaux's drive inside off Green's assist put the Gators ahead 32-31 late in the third quarter. DeVeaux's 3-pointer and uncontested layup off Ronald Fisher's assist gave Spring Creek a 37-35 advantage after three periods.

Princeton stayed within striking distance at 39-37. The next two possessions proved crucial, however. DeVeaux's steal and subsequent layup, and Potter's offensive putback extended the Gators' lead to 43-37.

"They beat us on the boards," said Davis.

Wilson scored four straight points to close the gap to 45-42 and DeVeaux was fouled with 14.7 seconds left in regulation. He missed both free throws, Kwame Corprew grabbed the rebound and hit Gurganus with the outlet pass.

But the Dawgs couldn't get an open look at the basket. Gurganus turned the ball over and DeVeaux dribbled out the clock.

"That's a huge loss (for us)," said Davis.