Special to The Mountain Advocate
Nick Riley led a quartet of Bulldogs in double figures as No. 7 Union College defeated third-ranked Davenport University 80-74 in the NAIA DII Showcase at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center in Kingsport, Tenn., on Sunday.
Riley hit 6-of-13 shots in netting a team-high 19 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists. J.D. Tucker followed with 17 points, while Lonnie Smith and Lorenzo Dewberry chipped in 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The win improves Union to 9-3 overall. The loss is the first for Davenport, which is now 9-1 on the season.
This is the second win over a top-10 opponent this season for Union, which defeated No. 10 Indiana East 78-74 in overtime on Nov. 7.
Union led from wire-to-wire but had to hold on at the end to collect the six-point victory.
Up 42-31 at the half, the Bulldogs led by as much as 13 points during the second half and owned a 59-47 advantage following a Riley bucket with 10:39 remaining. However, the Panthers fought back, using an 11-4 run to pull within 68-64 at the 5:49 mark. Things got more interesting after Kevin Rich hit a pair of free throws to draw Davenport within 77-74 with 28 seconds to play. Yet, Union sealed the six-point win with a Lance Blakely free throw and a Lonnie Smith layup.
Solid shooting helped give Union the early lead and the 11-point halftime cushion. The Bulldogs connected on 14-of-25 shots (56 percent) in the opening period and made 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Panthers stumbled out of the gate, going 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from the field and 3-for-11 (27.3 percent) from long range.
Ahead 11-9, Union used an 8-0 run to open up a 10-point lead with 13:50 left in the half. Thanks to a Dewberry 3-pointer and free throw, the Bulldogs built their largest lead of the night at 25-11 with 10:44 on the clock. Davenport rallied cut the deficit to 30-24, but Union closed the half on a 12-7 stretch to take a 42-31 lead into the break.
For the game, Union hit 49.1 percent (27-of-55) from the floor and outrebounded Davenport 38-35. Gerrard Newby grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to go with his four assists, three points and two blocks.
Union returns home to play host to Truett-McConnell College on Wednesday in Appalachian Athletic Conference play. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.