TFC welcomed Columbia International University to campus on February 8 for the second match up of the year between the two teams. In January, the Eagles defeated CIU 76-75 in dramatic fashion. In the rematch, TFC fell to CIU 77-71.
As both sides tried to solve the opposition’s tactics, the early minutes of the game were played evenly until Cam Williams, Josh Barrett, and Derek Westfall combined for a 7-0 run to give the Eagles a 14-7 advantage midway through the opening half. TFC would go the next 7 minutes of game time without a field goal, and the Rams surged to take a 23-16 lead with 2:23 left in the opening half. But Clay Martin’s short jumper as the half expired sent the teams to the locker room tied at 23-23.
TFC and CIU continued to play even, physical basketball in the second half. After trading leads and several ties, the sides were even at 48-48 with 6:18 to play. At 4:08 remaining on the clock and CIU holding a slim 53-50 lead, the Rams’ Zach Durkee completed a four point play, and Alonzo Green quickly drained a three pointer. In a matter of seconds, CIU held a 60-50 advantage. The Eagles struggled to turn the tide, and trailed by as many as 11 points in the final moments of the game. Jon Sauls (pictured above) was fouled on a three point shot and hit all three free throws and converted an acrobatic layup to cut CIU’s lead to 68-63 with less than two minutes remaining. Nathan Palmer hit a three pointer from the wing to give TFC hope in the final seconds, but CIU iced the game from the free throw line as TFC was forced to foul to stop the clock. CIU would hang on for the 77-71 victory over Toccoa Falls.
Cam Williams and Josh Barrett finished with identical 16 points and 7 rebounds. Barrett also added 8 assists, three blocks, and two steals. Westfall contributed 12 points and 8 boards in the loss. CIU’s Ben Johnson hit 7-8 free throws and led all scorers with 22 points. Alonzo Green added 20 points for the Rams.
The defeat to CIU was TFC’s first loss in its last 6 games. The Eagles will travel to Pensacola Christian College (Feb. 13) and Clearwater Christian College (Feb. 14) for region games that will go a long way in determining region tournament seeding. Currently, the Eagles sit in 2nd place in the region with a 8-2 mark.