The men’s basketball team returned to the court on Thursday as they traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, to face Johnson and Wales University. The Eagles could not sustain a late lead, and fell to the Wildcats, 61 – 64.
In their first game of 2013, the long layoff was evident for the Eagles, and they fell behind 4 -19 in the early minutes of the game. As they have been all year, the Eagles were resilient, and closed the gap to just 30 – 34 at the half. TFC continued their first half momentum, and took their first lead of the game at 44 – 43 halfway into the second period. High percentage shooting and hustle on the defensive end grew the Eagles advantage to as many as 9 points with less than five minutes to play. The Wildcats converted on five consecutive possessions, forced the Eagles into turnovers and difficult field goal attempts, and retook the lead 62 – 60 with less than two minutes to play. Down 61 – 64 with 10 seconds remaining, the Eagles were fouled on a three point attempt, but were unable to convert from the free throw line. The missed opportunities ended the game in a 61 – 64 loss.
“It’s clear to me that we’re continuing to get better. Johnson and Wales is a talented and athletic team that can score, and it was great that we were able to come back from being down 19-4. We were able to keep their scoring in check and go up 9 points late in the second half,” Coach Mehl said of his team’s effort. “However, down the stretch, we failed to make the necessary plays to keep pressure on their defense, and they capitalized on our turnovers and missed shots and took the game back from us.”
Josh Barrett and Derek Westfall lead the Eagles in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Freddie Harrell scored 9 and grabbed 8 rebounds for TFC.
The Lady Eagles will join the men on the road on Saturday, as both teams travel to Greenville, South Carolina, to face the Bob Jones Bruins. The Lady Eagles will tip off at 2:00, and the men’s game will follow. The first home game of the new semester will be on January 15 when the Lady Eagles host Northland International University at 5:00.