STEUBENVILLE - After a slow and often painful start, Big Red got it going in the second half and rolled to a 73-45 victory over Minerva Saturday inside The Crimson Center.
Mike Haney's crew, now 10-2, hoisted 31 field goal tries during the first half, sinking just 10. The score was knotted at seven after one period and Big Red managed to grab a 25-24 lead at the intermission thanks to a Chris Smith spinner in the lane at the buzzer.
A shooting turnaround coupled with a switch to the diamond and one on the defensive end jumpstarted the Big Red in the third.
Six consecutive Brandon Herring-Hill points put the Red ahead 37-28 midway through the third. A Khaliq Bougard triple along with baskets by Herring-Hill and C. Smith made it 46-30. The hosts outscored the Lions 21-9 during the frame and led by 13 heading into the fourth.
Herring-Hill and freshman Charles Reeves combined for 12 tallies as Haney's club put the game away in the fourth. Big Red shot 53 percent from the floor (20 for 38) during the final 16 minutes.
The defensive switch allowed Big Red to put the clamps on Minerva senior Jantsen Locke, who registered 13 first half points. Locke was limited to just one second half field goal. He did swish seven of eight free throws and finished with a game-high 21 points.
Big Red 73, Minerva 45
Minerva 7 17 9 12 - 45
Big Red 7 18 21 27 - 73
MINERVA (3-10): Locke 5 10-11 21, Catlett 3 2-2 9, Knight 2 2-2 6, Clapper 1 2-2 4, Cappelli 1 0-0 3, Gill 0 2-2 2, Stryffler 0 0-0 0, McNatt 0 0-0 0, Angione 0 0-0 0, Koe 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 12 18-19 45. 3-pointers: Locke, Catlett, Cappelli; Rebounds 26 (Locke 10); Turnovers 21.
BIG RED (10-2): Herring-Hill 8 2-2 18, Bougard 4 0-0 12, Wallace Jones 2 0-0 4, Collaros 1 0-0 3, Herrington 2 2-2 7, Reeves 3 0-1 6, Sterling 4 0-2 8, D. Smith 0 2-2 2, C. Smith 4 0-1 8, Williams 1 0-0 2, Miller 1 1-2 3, Prentice 0 0-0 0, Wolfe 0 0-0 0, Blue 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 30 7-12 73. 3-pointers: Bougard 4, Collaros, Herrington; Rebounds 33 (Sterling 7; Herring-Hill 6); Turnovers 9.
"Our first half was bad, it looked ugly," Haney admitted. "We challenged our guys at halftime. At the start, we looked bad and we looked slow. Our senior leadership took over in the second. We talked to the guys and they went out and did it.
"We moved better defensively in the second half. Everything about our offense starts with the defense. We played faster and created turnovers. We put our hands on a lot of balls in the first half, we but didn't get the steals or the turnovers. Plus they did a good job of boxing us out and limiting our offensive rebounding. All that turned around in the second half."
Herring-Hill paced the Big Red scoring parade with 18, 14 coming after the break. Bougard came off Haney's bench and provided some instant offense. He drained four triples to finish with 12. Adam Sterling and C. Smith finished with eight each. Sterling also picked off seven rebounds.
Lucas Herrington had seven points and dished our five assists.
"We did run a little diamond and on Locke," Haney said. "He's a heck of a player. We've gone against guys who can score but he can score off the dribble and off picks. He was difficult to guard one on one.
"The defensive switch made a little difference in the second half. Our guys picked up the pace and everything carried over after that offensively. Plus, we played better defensively."
Austin Catlett contributed nine points for Minerva, now 3-10 on the season.
Big Red returns to action Tuesday with a home game against John Marshall. On Wednesday, St. Clairsville will visit The Crimson Center.