By DOUG EADS
After a four-week layoff, the Campbellsville-Somerset University Tigers returned to action on Monday night at Somerset Christian School, and Al Gover’s club held on down the stretch for a much-needed win.
Deion Finnison led CU-Somerset with 22 points, TC Wright added 21 points, and Meith Reclow made a successful season debut with 18 points, helping the Tigers win back to back games for the first time this season with a hard-fought, 88-85 win over Simmons College out of Louisville.
“I was really pleased with our kid’s effort tonight,” stated a very happy coach Gover after the game.
“After having so much time off between games, I didn’t know for sure what to expect, but we had been back with a week of practice before this game, so I thought we would come out and play well,” added the Tigers head coach. “We had practiced really hard leading up to this game, and I’m extremely proud with how well we competed.”
This game was a back and forth affair for much of the contest, with Simmons College holding a slim, 47-45 lead over the Tigers at halftime.
The Falcons – coached by former University of Louisville standout guard Jerry Eaves – came out of the gate and shot the lights out early on, especially from downtown.
Guard Jonathon Henry made 6-7 field goal attempts from behind the three-point arc in the opening half of play, scoring 20 of his 29 points in the first half.
Still, the Tigers were right there with Simmons College, aided in large part by Reclow, who made his season debut for Somerset.
Reclow tallied 18 points and pulled down eight boards in the win, and he led CU-Somerset on a huge run early in the second half, helping the Tigers take control of the contest.
Thanks to a 13-0 spurt by CU-Somerset early in the second frame, Gover and crew led this one 67-54, and eventually built up the lead to as many as 14 points at 70-56, before Simmons College would rally.
Thanks to a 16-4 run by the visiting Falcons, Simmons had trimmed the Somerset lead down to only 74-72 with 8:04 remaining in the contest.
From that point on, the Falcons had three different opportunities to tie the game or take the lead with a three, and on all three trips at the defensive end of the court, it was CU-Somerset that came up with a big-time stop, on each of those three possessions, when the Tigers needed a defensive stop at winning time.
“When you have a big lead like we had there in the second half, it comes down to defensive rebounding,” pointed out Gover.
“With the game on the line, we did get defensive stops and we got on the defensive boards,” added the CU-Somerset coach. “We did what we needed to do, and I’m very pleased with the win.”
Despite the win, and despite the fact the Tigers got Reclow back for the first time from injury, and also saw the season debut of guard Jaylen Howard, Somerset still hasn’t had its full roster for a game for the entire season.
Keelan Kennedy – who had been on a tear for CU-Somerset scoring 111 points over the Tigers last three games headed into the Christmas break – was out on Monday night due to a leg injury suffered in a pickup game over the holidays.
For Gover, it’s been get one or two back, and see one or two go down with injury for the entire season, and on Monday night, it was just more of the same for the Tigers head coach.
“We haven’t had everybody together for the entire year, and I was really looking forward coming back from the break and having everybody together, but it just didn’t work out that way,” stated Gover.
“I feel pretty good about this bunch, and I’d like to have that other scorer out there, but the other kids are just going to have to step it up,” continued the Tigers coach. “Meith (Reclow) did a really good job with his first game back, and he’s a kid that can really score the basketball.”
Malik Lovan also hit for double figures in the win for the Tigers with 14 points, helping CU-Somerset improve to 5-10 on the season.
Gover and the Tigers will return to action on Thursday night at Elizabethtown Community College, before returning home on Saturday at 3 p.m. to face the University of Mississippi Women’s College.
That game will be at Somerset Christian School, and admission to the game is absolutely FREE!!