No. 4 Hawks win 14th straight, 73-61 over Belhaven
By Matt Green
ROME -- Walter Hill scored 17 points to lead four players in double figures as No. 4 Shorter rallied from a nine-point first half deficit and pulled away late for a 73-61 victory over Belhaven University in a Southern States Athletic Conference matchup on Friday night at the Winthrop-King Centre.
C.J. Davis scored 13 points and Johnathan Crawford and Anthony Banks added 12 apiece for the Hawks (14-0, 5-0 SSAC), who withstood an early flurry from the Blazers to remain perfect through 14 games for the first time in program history.
Belhaven (6-10, 1-4) had its three-game winning streak snapped despite 17 points from Woodie Howard. The Blazers didn't trail until the 14:58 mark of the second half and lost the lead for good on a layup by Kenny Leverette with 9:45 to play.
Shorter's two new additions came up big down the stretch as the Hawks finally established some breathing room in the closing minutes.
Shorter closed the game on a 13-2 run after Belhaven closed to within one with 5:53 remaining. Davis hit a big 3 from the right wing with the shot clock winding down to put Shorter ahead 65-59 with 3:07 left and Banks scored on a strong post move and knocked down two free throws with 51 seconds to go to extend Shorter's advantage to 68-61.
Banks and Davis combined for 15 second half points to account for nearly half of Shorter's point production in the frame.
Hill, who entered the game averaging over 20 points a contest, shrugged off a sluggish start to score 10 of his 17 in the second stanza. He scored six straight points to turn a two-point Shorter deficit into a 50-48 lead with 12:36 left in the game. Hill finished 4-for-13 from the floor, but made all eight of his free throw attempts as Shorter shot a blistering 19 of 22 from the charity stripe as a team.
Shorter led 52-51 at the midway point of the second half, but a thunderous one-handed slam from Dante Harvey followed by two straight transition layups from Davis gave the Hawks a seven-point cushion and some much needed momentum.
Belhaven built a nine-point lead in the first half thanks in large part to 14 points from Howard. A 12-3 run by the Hawks tied the game at 19 with 9:05 left until halftime, but Belhaven scored 12 of the game's next 17 points to push its lead back out to seven at the 4:03 mark.
Two 3-pointers from Davis fueled Shorter's 12-6 run to close the half as Belhaven led 37-36 at the break.
Shorter shot 43 percent to Belhaven's 42 percent and despite 11 first half turnovers, coughed up the ball only six times in the second half. Shorter surrendered 16 offensive rebounds, but forced 23 Belhaven turnovers in the win. The Blazers also connected on just 8 of 19 from the foul line.
The Hawks continue SSAC play on Saturday as they play host to SSAC West Division leader William Carey at 5 pm in the Winthrop-King Centre.