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Hot start helps Big Red men hold off ETBU

Jack Coulter  |  Photo by Brett Dunbar
Jack Coulter | Photo by Brett Dunbar

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Seven different players connected from the perimeter as the Big Red shot 43 percent from three and held off East Texas Baptist University 84-80 on Saturday afternoon on the first day of the Emory Holiday Classic at the Woodruff PE Center in Atlanta, Ga.

Headlined by 11 threes in the first half and a dominant rebounding performance of 45-32 in favor of Denison, the Big Red squandered a second-half rally from ETBU as they never trailed in the game and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.

Carrying a seven-point advantage with 4:25 to play in the game, Denison freshman Kevin Cheng accepted a pass from Matt Doyle and buried a three to put the Big Red back in front by double-digits, 75-65, at the 4:09 mark. The Tigers cut their deficit to single digits twelve seconds later when Robby Dooley went coast-to-coast and finished his layup off the glass to trail DU 75-67 with less than four minutes to play.

At 2:41 remaining, Denison's lead was trimmed back to seven points, 77-70 when Dooley connected at the rim and finished his three-point play at the charity stripe following a DU foul. Less than a minute later, Doyle headed to the free throw line for the Big Red and tallied one of his two attempts.

Leading 78-70, Dooley continued the Tigers' rally with four consecutive free throws as they whittled Denison's lead to four, 78-74, with 54 seconds left to play.

Following a Denison timeout, the Big Red went to the bucket on the next possession when junior Matt Gerics was fouled with 49 seconds remaining. Gerics made both free throws to increase DU's lead back to six, 80-74.

After Dooley added two more free throws and Denison was unable to convert at the charity stripe, the Tigers cut their deficit to one possession, 80-78, on a layup from Chris Haynes with 27 seconds left in the game.

Two more free throws from Gerics were answered by the Tigers with a layup from Landin Brown to keep the Big Red ahead by two, 82-80. On the next possession, DU's Doyle drew a foul from Dooley and connected on both of his free throws to make it a two-possession game with 19 seconds remaining.

A missed layup from Dooley was hauled in by Gerics to give the ball back to Denison, but neither side was able to score in the remaining seconds as the Big Red held on for their third win of the season. The loss dropped East Texas Baptist to 5-4 on the year.

The Big Red were led by 14 points each from Jack Coulter and Conor Fenton. Fenton, who tallied a new career-high in the victory, finished the game shooting 6-of-9 from the field and added five rebounds and two assists. Coulter garnered his season-high scoring total on 4-of-7 from the perimeter and chipped in two steals.

Fred Brou followed with 12 points and eight rebounds while Gerics tallied 11 points off the bench. Denison's bench outscored ETBU's, 45-21.

The Tigers received a game-high 27 points from Dooley, who also added five rebounds and three steals. Nathan Fontenot assisted Dooley with 12 points and two steals.

The Big Red will look to capture their second-straight win on Sunday afternoon when they return to Woodruff PE Center for a 2 p.m. tip-off with the Lakers of Oswego State on day two of the Emory Holiday Classic.

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