The Toccoa Falls College Eagles traveled to Clinton, South Carolina on Monday night for an exhibition game with the Presbyterian Blue Hose. On Saturday, TFC lost 104-50 to Georgia Southern University (NCAA D1) in its first exhibition game. PC entered Monday’s game 0-3 on the season with its most recent loss a 69-48 defeat at Wake Forest University. Facing their second consecutive NCAA D1 opponent in a three days span, the Eagles held a halftime lead and were within a single point with under two minutes remaining in the game, but fell in the end, 86-76.
From the opening tip, it was evident TFC would not suffer any affects from its difficult string of four games in five days. The Eagles stayed within striking distance throughout the opening minutes of the first half until Nathan Palmer converted an old-fashioned three point play with 7:45 remaining in the first half to give TFC a 23-22 lead. PC answered TFC with a 5-0 run to retake the lead 27-23. TFC responded, as they would all evening, to tie the game at 29-29 before taking a 37-35 lead into the locker room. In the opening half, TFC out shot PC from the floor, 44% to 32%.
When the teams returned to the floor, Presbyterian quickly found its hot shooting hand and buried several deep three pointers in the opening minutes of the new half. Propelled by accurate shooting against TFC’s zone, PC opened a 55-47 advantage after 6 minutes of play. PC would increase its lead to as many as 11 points before the Eagles closed the gap to 58-52 to force a PC time out. Josh Barrett, TFC’s leading scorer on the night, brought the deficit to 64-57 with an acrobatic three point play.
With 2:20 left to play, Barrett drained one of his two three-pointers on the night to knock PC’s once double-digit lead to 77-74. After a tough defensive stand and rebound, Barrett dove for a loose ball and flipped a pass behind his head to Josh Folwell. Folwell’s layup closed PC’s lead to 77-76 with 1:45 to play. PC’s Jordan Downing drained a quick three from the corner for a four point PC lead, 80-76. Down by four, the Eagles were unable to convert on the offensive end and were forced to foul in order to send the Blue Hose to the line. PC would convert all their free throws in the final minutes and escape the pesky Eagles, 86-76.
TFC out shot PC 46% to 39% in the game, but was out done by PC’s 9-17 three point shooting in the second half. Josh Barrett led all scorers with 22 points on the night and grabbed 10 boards for the double-double. Derek Westfall added 18, and Jon Sauls had 11 points. The Blue Hose had four players in double figures. Jordan Downing’ was 4-9 shooting from three point range and led PC with 21 points. William Truss contributed 19 points and 16 boards. Will Adams added 17, and Reggie Dillard had 14 points to go with his 12 assists.
“I’m so proud of the way everybody played, especially given the difficult stretch of games we played before tonight,” said TFC head coach Jason Mehl. “Every single guy made himself better tonight, and we grew up and together as a team. This game is a huge building block that we’ll continue to build on, starting tomorrow night at Piedmont College.”
The women’s and men’s teams will travel to Piedmont College on Tuesday for a 6:00 and 8:00 double header. On Friday, the Eagles will kick off their 2013 home slate at 6:00 PM against region foes Piedmont International University. Following the men’s game, the Lady Eagles will host Pensacola Christian College at 8:00.