BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Union College guard Tyler Wagner (Corbin, Ky.) led all Bulldogs scorers with 17 points, as UC held off a late charge by Reinhardt (Ga.) to post an 82-80 Appalachian Athletic Conference men’s basketball victory on Tuesday night at Robsion Arena.
With the win, Union moved to 10-12 overall, 4-7 in the AAC, while Reinhardt fell to 8-12 with the loss, 5-6 in the AAC.
In the first half, Union started on a tear, opening an early 10-2 lead after Tarik Smith drained a three at the 14 minute mark. Reinhardt quickly came back, however, and took their first lead of the night with 11 minutes to go at 14-13. The game remained close over the next couple of minutes, as UC held a slim lead throughout.
With 4:22 left, UC held a 27-25 lead. The Bulldogs proceeded to end the half on a strong note, going 8-0 spurt to open a 35-25 lead with 1:49 left. Reinhardt scored the final four points of the half, but UC still held a 35-29 lead at the break.
In the second half, Union went on a huge run over the first nine minutes to open up a big lead. The Bulldogs raced out to a 21-10 run to start the period, capped off by a Wagner three that gave UC their biggest lead of the night at 56-39 with 11:42 to go in regulation. Over the next couple of minutes, UC continued to hold the big lead, and led by 16 (61-45) with 8:44 left after another Wagner three.
It looked as though Union had the game wrapped up with 3:17 left, holding a 10 point lead (76-66) after a Josh Smith (Corbin, Ky.) jumper. But, Reinhardt refused to go away quietly, as the Eagles went on a 11-2 run over the next two and a half minutes to cut the once big UC lead down to a single point (78-77) with 39 second left.
After UC successfully got the ball in bounds, James Strange (Pineville, Ky.) was fouled, and made two huge free throws to extend the lead out to 80-77. On Reinhardt’s next trip down the floor, the Eagles turned it over, but Strange missed a lay-up in transition with 27 seconds left, giving the ball back to Reinhardt.
Down three and with 14 seconds left, Reinhardt’s Quntion Wood shot from beyond the arc, but missed on the game-tying attempt. Josh Smith pulled down the defensive rebound, and gave the ball up to Kyle Bush (Ashland, Ky.), who was fouled. Bush made one of two free throws to make it 81-77 with nine seconds left, but Reinhardt raced down the floor and made a three with three seconds remaining to cut the lead down to a point at 81-80.
On the in-bound, UC’s Tarik Smith was fouled, and went to the foul line to shoot two free throws. Smith made one of two, giving UC a two-point lead. Reinhardt had one last chance with a second remaining, but a desperation three from almost half-court wend wide, and the Bulldogs hung on for the hard fought AAC win.
Overall, Wagner led four double digits scorers on the night for UC with his 17 point effort. Meanwhile, Tarik Smith came off the bench and scored 15 points, Archie Adams (Aiken, S.C.) had 12 points, and Strange and Josh Smith each chipped in with 11 points (Smith notched five assists on the night, as well).
Wood led Reinhardt in a losing effort, scoring a game-high 25 points.
The Union men’s basketball team returns to action on Thursday, traveling to Montreat (N.C.) for another AAC tilt. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.