Free throws doom Wallace

Published 12:19 am Friday, January 23, 2009

Wallace’s two-game win streak was snapped in a 103-100 loss to Alabama Southern Community College on Thursday.

Daniel Clements scored 28 points — including eight 3-pointers — to lead the Eagles to the win. However, the Patriots proved to be their own worst enemy with 23 missed free throws — including two crucial misses down the stretch.

“You’ve got to hit those,” said Wallace coach Ronald Lane. “You can’t miss that many free throws against any team and expect to win.”

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Leading 98-88 with 1:59 left in the contest, Alabama Southern appeared to have firm control of the game. But a Kent Jones 3-pointer — followed by two more from Reggie Mann — spurred the Patriots to a 9-0 run to trim the deficit to 98-97 with 57 ticks left on the clock.

“When it looked bleak, I knew my kids wouldn’t give up,” said Lane. “I knew they wouldn’t quit.”

A Chris Walker miss on a 3-point play opportunity denied Wallace the chance to tie the score at 100. Like Walker, Michael Acoff earned a chance to tie the game at the line after he was fouled on a layup attempt.

But, the Patriots’ poor free throw shooting hurt them again, as Acoff hit the first, but missed the second. Dre Toler hit two free throws on the other end of the court, and the Eagles — after Walker’s desperation heave hit the ceiling — escaped with the win.

“Respect to the coach. He’s doing a (great) job,” said Alabama Southern coach Ben Hicks. “Any given night, these guys can upset anybody.”

Both teams got off to the races early. Walker scored the game’s first five points before the Eagles (13-5, 4-1) heated up from the 3-point line. Momentum shifted constantly in a half that featured six lead changes, and the Eagles led 54-51 at the half.

The Patriots (5-15, 2-3) opened the second half with an 8-0 run to retake the lead at 59-56. But eight minutes later, the Eagles hit an 8-0 run capped by a Rory Miller layup and putback of his own free throw miss to put Southern Union ahead 81-73.

From there, the Eagles kept the Patriots at bay until their late run.

Walker led Wallace with 25 points. Jones added 22, and Acoff, Reginald Carson and Mann chipped in 13 apiece.

Dre Toler trailed Clements with 19 points. Brandon Nobles contributed 18 and Miller finished with 15.