LYNCHBURG – The Motlow Bucks battled visiting Columbia State, ranked fourth in the nation, down to the wire Saturday night before dropping a 79-74 decision to the Chargers at Copperweld Arena. It was the final home game of the season for Motlow.
The Bucks (12-13, 7-10) will travel to Dyersburg State on Tuesday to make up a game that was postponed on Feb. 12 due to inclement weather. Following the trip to Dyersburg, Motlow will begin preparation for the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Tournament, which begins Mar. 4 at Roane State in Harriman, Tenn.
Missed free throws, which have been a consistent problem for the Bucks recently, kept Motlow from beating a ranked team for the second time this season. Motlow connected on only 16 of its 32 free throw attempts, while the visitors hit 18-24, including their final 10 in a row.
Although poor free-throw shooting was a problem for Motlow, poor shooting in general was the story of the day for the Bucks. Motlow hit only 36% of its shots from the field and 29% of its 3-point opportunities. Columbia State shot 54% from the field. The Bucks dominated the backboards 52-37, but committed 17 turnovers while forcing only 10.
Motlow’s first lead came in the first three minutes at 5-3, and they didn’t lead again until Dequon Miller hit a 3-pointer with 6:30 remaining in the game to give the Bucks a 61-60 lead. Miller scored eight straight points over a two minute span to give his team a 68-64 lead with 4:44 left to play.
To Columbia State’s credit though, the Chargers did not go quietly. T.J. Dunans, who along with Miller appears to be contending for conference player of the year, scored 20 second-half points on his way to a 31-point game. He hit five straight free throws in the final minutes, as did Columbia guard Justin Pride.
Miller led Motlow with 22 points, adding six assists and six rebounds. Trey James added another notch in the Motlow all-time single game record book as he pulled down 20 rebounds to go along with 12 points, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Greg Mason added 13 points with eight rebounds for the Bucks, and Kerby Lubin scored 11 points with four assists and three rebounds.