Putting a positive spin on an old cliche, the Queens Royals picked a good night to have a good night on Wednesday.
Six Queens players scored in double figures, led by senior guard Rob Lewis’ 22 points and 15 from senior guard Marquis Rankin, to boost the No. 2-seeded Royals to a 96-86 victory over Catawba in a South Atlantic Conference tournament quarterfinal game at Curry Arena.
The win sends the No. 20-nationally ranked Royals (24-5) into Saturday’s 8 p.m. semifinal at Furman University against the winner of Wednesday’s Wingate/Carson-Newman quarterfinal game. It also broke a three-game losing streak at the best possible time.
“We just talked about playing good tournament basketball,” Queens coach Bart Lundy said. “Share the ball, cut down on turnovers and rebound the ball a lot better. We did all those things.”
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The Royals used a 12-2 run midway through the first half to break open what had been a back-and-forth battle in the opening minutes.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to keep them out of the paint (free-throw lane), and we didn’t do that on their first 10 possessions,” Lundy said. “We got some stops and hit some shots ourselves and that got us untracked.”
Sophomore guard Jameel Taylor led all scorers with 25 points for No. 7 seed Catawba (12-17).
Three who mattered
Rob Lewis, Queens: Scored 13 points in the second half, hitting 4-of-6 3-point attempts after halftime to help the Royals to as much as a 22-point lead.
Todd Withers, Queens: Buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Royals their first double-digit lead, 46-36, at halftime. Finished with 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Jameel Taylor, Catawba: Scored 17 points in the first half but was held to just 1-of-7 from the field in the second half.
▪ The Royals played the game without their No. 2 scorer, senior forward Sean Morgan. He suffered an ankle injury early in Saturday’s double-overtime loss at Tusculum. His status is uncertain for the weekend.
▪ Kendall Jones scored 14 points, Daniel Camps 13 and Jared Hendryx 11 for Queens. Troy Warren scored 14 points and former East Meck standout Jerrin Morrison added 11 for Catawba.
▪ Queens shot 58 percent from the field (33-of-57 attempts).
They said it
“We got out of our element in some of those games (in the losing streak). Being competitors like we are, you can’t put that totally out of your mind. But it was all about finding ourselves again tonight and that’s what we did.” – Lewis