The Lions, the preseason favorite to win the Sunshine State Conference, improved to 1-0 on the young season and picked up right where they left off after a historic 2011-12 campaign that saw Saint Leo win a school record 18 games and advance to its first NCAA Tournament.
Shorter (0-1), also fresh off a historic season last year during which it won 34 games and ascended to No. 1 in the NAIA national polls, had the misfortune of debuting in Division II against a Saint Leo team that had scored a 69-67 victory over the University of Miami in one of its two exhibition games leading up to Friday night’s opener.
Saint Leo proceeded to lose to Florida State in Tallahassee by nine in its second exhibition several days later, but was quickly put on upset alert by the Hawks on Friday.
Saint Leo built a 35-33 lead at halftime, but Shorter used the sharp long range shooting of Davis to rally and take a lead early in the second half.
Davis, who shot 10-for-17 from the floor and 4 of 8 from 3-point range, scored eight straight points to open the second stanza, courtesy of two 3-pointers and a runner in the lane, to put the Hawks up 41-37 with 17:16 to go.
Shorter’s Anthony Banks made 1 of 2 from the line moments later to put Shorter up 42-39, but Saint Leo answered with a 14-2 run over the next 4:54. The Lions’ Dominick Robinson capped the spurt with a 3-pointer at the 11 minute mark to hand Saint Leo a 53-44 lead.
Shorter twice pulled within six over the next three minutes, but the Lions had an answer each time. Banks’ layup cut Shorter’s deficit to 57-51 with 8:10 remaining, but a Robinson traditional 3-point play followed by a deep 3 from Jerrel Harris kick started an 11-3 run that all but put the game out of reach for the Hawks.
The lead ballooned to 17 on Harris’ fifth and final trey of the night with 1:36 to play.
Ware chipped in with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals for Shorter while Banks, a 2011-12 NAIA All-American, finished with nine points and eight rebounds on 3-for-5 shooting after sitting much of the first half with foul trouble.
Harris led Saint Leo with 23 points and Robinson added 15. Shorter held the Lions’ Trent Thomas and Marcus Ruh, who entered the game having led Saint Leo in scoring last season at 15 and 14 points, respectively, to 14 points combined. The duo combined to shoot just 4-for-16.
The Hawks return to Rome and the Winthrop-King Centre on Monday, November 12 for their 2012-13 home opener against Knoxville College. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.
Lady Cats Pull Out First Win Of Season In Music City
A small Piedmont International squad forced Georgia Northwestern into something they weren’t used to on Friday afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee.
A half-court style of play.
The opening round of the Welch College Invitational proved troublesome for the NJCAA Region XVII defending champs.
“The slower style of play really threw us for a loop in this one,” said Georgia Northwestern Women’s Head Basketball Coach Jim Williams. “However, we’ve been there.” Transition play in the second half led to breakaway baskets by the Lady Cats as they pick up the tough road win, 71-62.
Halfway through the first period, a jumper in the paint from senior Piedmont guard Emily Buffaloe gave the Lady Bruins their only lead of the HALF, 19-18. However, lots of fresh legs and speed down the court helped the Lady Cats claw to a nine-point lead at the break, 33-24.
For Georgia Northwestern, Freshman Keesha Wise led all Lady Cats with 17 points in the road win. Fellow freshmen Alyssa Nichelson and Mariah Price added a dozen each in the effort. Price also made a trio of swipes on the day. Freshman Odessa Person pulled down nine boards, as well.
The side story of the game was the three minutes of play earned by the last player on the roster, Megan Flaherty. The 5-foot-8, 145 pound forward started the season as the Lady Cats manager. She quickly decided she wanted to try to earn a reserve spot on the team. Although she scored no points in her collegiate debut, it’s a moment the team seemed to cheer on.
“Every Lady Cat is a huge part of this team,” said Williams. “We’re proud of Megan and the entire team. This was a nice road win.”
The Lady Cats (1-2) play one more in the Nashville tournament Saturday morning at 10 a.m. eastern against Warren Wilson College.
Lady Hawks claim straight set victory, beat North Alabama
The Lady Hawks continue their impressive eight game winning streak tonight as they defeated Gulf South Conference opponent North Alabama in straight sets for the 12th time this season and 5th straight set win in a row.
Shorter (21-5, 11-4 GSC) avenged their earlier loss to North Alabama back on September 28. The Lady Hawks led the entire first set and only briefly trailed in the second set before rallying back to the lead. Shorter was able to claim the sets 25-18, 25-21, 25-23.
Jasmine Crook led the team with 11 kills while hitting .429 to lead all players.
The Lady Hawks outhit the visiting Lions .229 to .186, with a match high .324 in the first set to start the game.
Jordan Corder continued to tally up her career assist total with 30 on tonight's game.
Loren Olive finished with 11 digs and 7 kills; while Dena Pierce chipped in 10 digs and two service aces, good enough to move her into third on the team for the season.
North Alabama (11-16, 7-8 GSC) came into tonight's matchup having lost two in a row, received top play from Hope Rayburn with 41 assists to lead all players, Jessica Ronyak and Cara Gregg with 11 kills each and Alex Panks with 13 digs to lead all lead players.
The Lady Hawks are back in action tomorrow at 6 pm for their final home game of the season against another GSC opponent – Christian Brothers. Shorter defeated Christian Brothers earlier this season in a 3-2 win on September 29. The Lady Hawks are 8-2 at home this season and tomorrow's game will also be Senior Night.