Falcons soar past Lions in second half

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The University of Montevallo men’s basketball team used a dominating second half to pull away from the Lions of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith 84-73 in the University of West Florida Christmas tournament Dec. 18.

Montevallo (10-2) was led by senior D.J. Rivera, who scored 25 of his 28 points after the halftime break. Rivera also had a team-high four assists.

Senior DeMarcus Catchings chipped in 12 points, four rebounds and a team-high two steals.

Junior Jeff Hefner came up just short of a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds. Freshman Ryan May and junior Jonas Brown each had nine points and four rebounds. Junior Marvin Fitzgerald added eight points and seven boards.

The Falcons shot 54.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range. Montevallo improved its free throw shooting as the Falcons hit 76.9 percent of their free attempts. The Lions shot just 37.5 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from three-point range.

Montevallo dominated the boards out-rebounding the Lions 38-24 and outscoring Arkansas-Fort Smith in second chance points 16-6. The Falcons also dominated in the paint outscoring the Lions 34-18.

Montevallo began the game with a 12-2 run to take the early advantage. The Lions responded with a 12-2 run of their own to tie the game at 14 with 11:35 left in the first. The Lions took their first lead of the game on a free throw at the 11:02 mark but UM quickly responded with a pair of free throws from senior Chauncey Thompson. Montevallo and Arkansas-Fort Smith traded baskets for the next six minutes to take the half down to the 3:19 mark. The Lions led by one but a three from Brown and a lay-up by Hefner gave the Falcons a dour-point lead with 1:20 to play. After a lay-up by the Lions, a free throw by Brown gave Montevallo a three-point halftime lead.

Montevallo opened the second half with a 9-0 run to open up a 12-point lead. The Lions were able to cut that lead to six but Montevallo responded with a three from May and a pair of lay-ups to up the lead back to 12. Montevallo would maintain the double-digit lead most of the second half growing it to as much as 15 midway through the period. The Lions used a late surge to cut the lead to just five points but a plethora of Rivera free throws grew UM’s lead back to double-digits as the game ended, 84-73.

The game marks the final contest in 2011 for the Falcons. Montevallo will return to action in the New Year on January 3 at 7 p.m. as they host Concordia College-Selma in non-conference action.