Saints use late run to finish off Cougars
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 8, 2012 11:54 PM
Southern Wayne needed fewer than two minutes to deliver a decisive knockout punch to Goldsboro and quickly empty out a jam-packed Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium.
The Saints used an 11-1 late in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on a 70-62 win over the Cougars and former Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. Saints' senior guard Ronnell Outlaw knocked down five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 24 points.
"We talked about Coach Stephens going to Goldsboro and the guys really cared about him but they knew we had to move on," first-year Southern Wayne head coach Dwight Smith said. "They really wanted to beat him and the Cougars as well. I told the kids this was one of the biggest games we had played so far."
The first quarter was played at a frantic pace as both teams converted turnovers into transition opportunities. Jalin Sprueil's 3-pointer gave Goldsboro an 8-5 lead but Outlaw's jump shot capped five consecutive points by the Saints who led 12-11 after the opening period.
Cougars' center Damarian Henderson began to assert himself in the paint midway through the second quarter. Henderson drew a pair of charges defensively and his layup put Goldsboro in front 25-19.
Southern Wayne (5-1) started to chip away and three late buckets from Jaylen Roberts cut the Cougars' lead to 29-27 at the half.
The Saints' cranked up their defensive intensity in the third quarter and forced six Goldsboro turnovers and recorded multiple stops on the defensive end. The Cougars (3-2) finished with 19 turnovers and struggled throughout the night to make open shots.
"When your shot's not going then you have to stop them on the defensive end and I don't think we did a great job defensively tonight," Stephens said. "It seemed like in the second half they wanted it a little more than us. Their post players got every loose ball and hustle-play. I think we just got outworked tonight."
Outlaw caught fire from beyond the arc and hit three of his five 3-pointers during the third quarter. His 3-pointer with a little more than six minutes left put Southern Wayne in front for good at 34-31.
"This is Ronnell's senior year and I told our seniors this was their last time playing in the Cougar Den," Smith said. "Our seniors came out and they really played."
Jaylen Moore's layup cut the Saints' lead to 56-53 with three minutes left in the game before the Saints forced turnovers to fuel an 11-1 run that sent most of the standing-room-only crowd headed for the exits.
"We rely on our defense a lot," Smith said. "We pressure the ball a lot and create turnovers and we talk about we don't want to just force turnovers but we want to turn them over and then make them pay over. We also talk about closing out quarters and those guys bought into it tonight and they did a nice job of closing out quarters."
Angelo Burden finished with 12 points and Roberts added 10. Julius Murphy led Goldsboro with 14 points and Sprueil supplied 13 points. Rasheen Artis scored nine points and Henderson had eight.
Southern Wayne begins Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play on Tuesday at home against Triton. The Cougars play host to Southern Nash on Wednesday.
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