The third-ranked Flames had the ball with just six seconds remaining but Will Barnes was never able to get off a potential game tying 3-point attempt as the ball was stolen away, along with the perfect record. Lee falls to 13-1 on the season (5-1 SSAC). The victory moves the No. 10 Crusaders to 13-2 (6-0 SSAC).
The Flames entered the halftime break with a 44-36 advantage but could not overcome a 20-6 run by William Carey to start the second half.
Lee appeared to have weathered the storm down just five and with possession of the ball when a technical foul was called on the Flames with 7:27 to play.
William Carey would hit both foul shots to extend the lead and deflate the comeback attempt. An even bigger loss came when senior Steve Bennett stepped on the floor during the technical foul altercation. Bennett was preparing to check into the game at the scorer's table but stepped onto the court prematurely and was ejected from the game and, by rule, will also miss the following game Thursday against Southern Wesleyan.
"I was disappointed that Steve (Bennett) went onto the court. He didn't come off the bench — he was at the scorer's table getting ready to check in, but he has got to know not to step onto the court [in such a situation]”, said coach Brown about the altercation. "I was very proud of how our guys handled themselves and kept their composure, though."
Leading the way for the Flames was senior Will Barnes with 17 points. Sophomore Corey Billingsley had 15 markers and was 6-of-8 from the charity stripe, doing most of his damage in the second half. Senior Patrick Shaughnessy added 11 points and eight rebounds, making 5-of-6 from the field. Senior Duran Blue chipped in 11 points and junior Jamorris Gaines, playing in his second game with the Flames, registered nine points in going 3-of-4 from the 3-point line.
"We missed some free throws and turned the ball over too many times down the stretch," added Brown. "William Carey has some very athletic wing players and they made some plays and hit their foul shots."
Lee shot 43 percent from the field (29-of-67) and 37 percent from 3-point distance (10-of-27). William Carey also shot 43 percent from the field (27-of-62) but did most of its damage at the foul line, hitting 21 freebies on 27 attempts. Both teams committed 12 turnovers and the Crusaders held a slim 42-41 advantage in the rebounding department.
William Carey was led by Jeremiah Dunnings, who scored 28 points while going a perfect 11-of-11 from the foul line. Kelvin Nixon added 18 points and Daron Bell had 17 markers and eight rebounds for the Mississippi club.
The Flames will continue the road trip on Thursday as they head to Central, S.C., to battle Southern Wesleyan before returning home next Saturday to square off with Coastal Georgia.
Flames 77, Blazers 62
JACKSON, Miss. — The Flames began the 2013 portion of the schedule just how they finished 2012, with a win, defeating host Belhaven University 77-62.
Will Barnes scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Flames. Blue added 14 points, seven boards and four assists.
Chase Dunn and Gaines made it four Lee players to hit double-digits in scoring. Dunn had 13 points and three assists, Gaines contributed 10 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in his Lee debut.
Chad Lee finished shy of a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds. Bennett finished with nine points and six rebounds in less than 12 minutes of playing time.
The Flames shot 45 percent (24-of-53) from the floor and held Belhaven (6-10, 3-2 SSAC) to 34 percent (21-of-61). Belhaven forced 22 Lee turnovers and was guilty of 17 floor mistakes of its own.
“We looked like ‘Space Jam,’ where the aliens took all of the players’ talents away,” said Lee head coach Tommy Brown.
Lee held a slight 22-19 advantage in made free throws and made good on 7-of-20 three-point attempts, while Belhaven missed 14-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc.
“We didn’t really move our legs on defense, they just missed the shots,” added Brown.
Jonathan Ratliff made the Blazers’ lone three-pointer to finish with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“(Curt) Hall played so hard,” said Brown. “He was a warrior. We were fortunate (Jordan) Butts picked up his third foul early after being hit with a technical foul.”
Hall, Butts and Datodrick Pinkston each tallied 15 points in the loss. Butts added eight boards, while Pinkston came down with six rebounds and dished out four assists.