Henderson, Tenn. - 11/8/2003 - The Union University Bulldogs, ranked No. 18 in the NAIA preseason polls, pulled out yet another close victory by defeating Arkansas Baptist 81-79 in the LionBacker Classic at Freed-Hardeman University. On Friday night, Union overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to win 64-63 over Florida Memorial. Union improved to 3-0 on the season while Arkansas Baptist falls to 1-3.
Union was up by four points with 30 seconds to play. Arkansas Baptist's Brannon Hargraves made a three pointer in his only attempt of the night to cut the lead to just one at 80-79. Marcus Cooper made one-of-two free throws to give Union an 81-79 lead with under 10 seconds remaining. Hargraves missed a fall-away runner as time exprired that would have tied the game.
Union led 43-38 at the half, but Arkansas Baptist opened the second half with an 18-8 run to take the lead. Arkansas Baptist lead by as many at eight points in the second half, but Union rallied back as they did the night before. In the game, 58 fouls were called which produced 73 total free throw attempts. Union led for most of the final five minutes and clutch free throws down the stretch from Ben Fredrick, Marcus Cooper, and Will Harris helped seal the win.
Last season, Union struggled in close games, going 1-6 in overtime games. However, early on in 2003, the Bulldogs seem to be able to find ways to win. Both Arkansas Baptist and Florida Memorial are very athletic and capable teams. Arkansas Baptist led No. 10 Lee University at the half in a tournament last weekend before eventually falling in that game. Union has started the season 3-0 when they could have easily started 1-2. The team is learning what is takes to put them over the top in close games. Senior guard, Zach Wiggs, took over in the final 10 minutes of the game with 11 of his 17 points to help pace the Bulldogs. This is good news for Ralph Turner's Bulldogs who are trying to mesh together experienced players and three impact freshmen.
For the second straight night, freshman Ben Frederick led all scorers with 24 points. Zach Wiggs and Bruno Martinessi added 17 and 10 points respectively. For Arkansas Baptist, Joshua Richmond tallied a double-doulbe with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Brannon Hargraves scored 19 and Cedric Thomas added 16 points. Union out rebounded Arkansas Baptist 41-39.
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