Strong second half lifts Union to 11th straight victory

By John Gatto

For the Mountain Advocate

Guard JD Tucker (JR/Charleston, S.C.) paced four double-digit scorers with a game-high 21 points, as the Union College men’s basketball team pulled away in the second half to notch an 96-72 victory over Berea (Ky.) in out-of-conference action at Robsion Arena on Monday night.

With the victory, the Bulldogs captured their 11th straight win – matching a school-record set last season – moving to 20-4 overall. Berea fell to 14-4 with the defeat.

To start things, both teams came out firing, as the score was tied on five separate occasions in the first six minutes of play. After Union took a slim four-point lead with 10:37 left in the period (24-20), Berea raced on a 10-3 run over the next few minutes to take a 30-27 lead with 8:10 to go.

This would be the final time on the evening that Berea would have a lead, as Union quickly grabbed it back at 31-30 with six minutes left. Things did, however, remain close into the final stages of the period, as the Bulldogs clung to a 41-39 lead with 2:09 left.

Here, however, the Bulldogs ended the half on a flurry, going on a 7-2 run into the locker room to go up 48-41 at the half. The run was punctuated late by a Gerrard Newby (SO/Lexington, Ky. ) dunk with under 10 seconds left in the period.

The run continued to start the second half, where Union essentially put Berea away in the first five minutes of the period.

After Berea cut the Union lead to three points (48-45) in the first two minutes, the Bulldogs went on a back-breaking 20-4 run over a seven minute span to take an insurmountable 68-49 lead with 11:59 left.

The roll continued throughout the rest of regulation, as the Bulldogs coasted to another huge win at home, avenging a loss earlier in the season to the Mountaineers in the process.

Overall, Tucker led the way with 21 points and seven assists (a season-high for the Junior). Meanwhile, forward Deante Johnson (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) was absolutely dominant in the second half, scoring 16 of his final 20 points in the period (on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting performance from the floor).

Elsewhere, Dominique Hagans (SR/Lexington, Ky.) registered his sixth straight double-digit scoring game with 16 points (along with seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals), while Fitzgerald White (SR/Miami, Fla. ) rounded out the double-digit scorers for Union with 15 points. Newby had a strong night, as well, matching career-highs with 11 rebounds and four blocks, while scoring eight points.

Berea was led in the loss by Richard Parker, who had 14 points.

By the Numbers 

  • ¥ With the victory tonight, Union has now clinched their 14th 20-win season in program history.
  • ¥ The Union defense was absolutely suffocating in the second half, holding Berea to just 31 points on 23.4 percent shooting from the floor (1-of-10 from three-point range).
  • ¥ Tonight’s win was Union’s 17th by double-figures on the 2014-15 season.
  • ¥ In the Bulldogs’ 11-game winning streak since the beginning of January, they are outscoring their opponents by a staggering margin of 1030-766.

Up Next

Union looks for their 12th straight victory on Wednesday night against Point (Ga.) in Appalachian Athletic Conference action. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.