Wilmington, NC - Cape Fear men's basketball defeated conference opponent USC Salkehatchie, 95-89. Alonzo Tyson led the Sea Devils with 25 points on 10-13 shooting, to go along with 15 rebounds.
While Cape Fear led for most of the game, the Indians kept the game close throughout, and led for a good portion of the second half.
The Sea Devils looked to get Tyson involved early in the first half. Many of their halfcourt sets involved feeding him in the post, and he responded by scoring his team's first seven points. The home team held a small lead in the early minutes, and maintained that throughout the first ten minutes.
Their lead extended to 9 midway through the first half, after Shaft Parker intercepted a pass and took it the other way for a layup. By this point, Cape Fear looked the better team, particularly on the defensive end, as they limited the Indians to 35 percent shooting in the first portion of the half.
The half was dominated by two players. Tyson remained the focal point of Cape Fear's offense, and finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds in the first half. On the other side, USC Shalkehatchie's Veron Lowndes scored 15 points.
The Indians would close the gap in the finals minutes of the half. Going on a 5-0 run, they cut Cape Fear's lead to one with a minute and a half remaining, but the Sea Devils responded to end the half leading 42-37.
The Indians started the second half on a 7-2 run, and tied the score at 44-44. The Sea Devils responded with five straight, but Salkehatchie answered right back, cutting the lead to one. Alston Davis was a factor on offense, knocking down two consecutive 3-pointers in the first four minutes. Jacque Brown then hit two from beyond the arc himself, giving Cape Fear a five point lead.
But Salkehatchie responded again, scoring eight straight to take a three point lead, their first of the game. Cape Fear began to struggle on offense, turned the ball over far too many times. Head coach Ryan Mantlo saw that as a reason Salkehatchie was able to hang around and take the lead.
"I thought we played sloppy, and gave the ball away too many times. 22 turnovers in a conference game is not good."
The game remained close for several minutes. Cape Fear got Tyson involved again in the post, and he responded with consecutive buckets that tied the game.
"He was the difference," said Mantlo. "We thought we could establish a good post game, and [he] did a great job."
Two 3-pointers by Trevor Willis gave Cape Fear a four point lead, its first in almost 10 minutes. They remained in the lead in the closing minutes, but Salkehatchie hung around, and a three pointer Lowndes cut their lead to 87-85 with two and a half minutes remaining.
Salkehatchie continued to threaten, but Cape Fear iced it with 30 seconds remaining. Leading by three, Jacque Brown converted an And-1 basket to give Cape Fear a six point lead. The two possession lead gave them the needed separation, and the home team was able to hit free throws to finish the game.
Despite the sloppy play, coach Mantlo was happy with his team's effort.
"We battled, and found a way, and good teams do that on bad nights."
The win improves Cape Fear to 19-4 overall, and 4-2 in conference play.
Their next game is Saturday, February 11th, where they will take on Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute at 3:00 p.m. as part of "First Responder Appreciation" night.