GEORGETOWN, Texas - Southwestern allowed just 18 first-half points and took care of business from the free throw line in the final three minutes to defeat SUNYIT 73-61 on Monday evening.
Southwestern was patient on offense, working the ball around the perimeter until penetration lanes opened up or open looks presented themselves and took advantage when they did to take a 10 point lead, 16-6, with a little under 12 minutes to play in the first half.
As sharp as the Pirates were offensively it was nothing compared to their defensive execution as they held SUNYIT to nine points through the opening 12 minutes. With the same recipe the Pirates extended their lead to 18, 33-15 and led by 21, 39-18 at halftime.
Travis Kurtz nearly outscored the Wildcats in the half with 15 on 5-6 shooting from the field and 4-5 from long range. As a team SU went 53.3% from the floor and 46.2% from three point range while holding SUNYIT to 31.8% from the field and 20% from long range.
Even with the large lead the Pirate's defensive pressure never waned as the second half wound down until the Wildcats were able to chip away at the lead from the free throw line and came within eight, 62-54, after a three by Alex Drake with 3:03 remaining.
Turnovers and an inability to finish layups began to cost the Pirates, but they were able to maintain their lead from the free throw line, converting on 11 of 14 in the final three minutes.
SU closed out the game shooting 42.6% from the field and 41.7% from three point range while SUNYIT was held to 38.5% from the floor and long range. Kurtz led the charge with a season high 26 points while Cantu added in 24. Blake Scott racked up eight boards to lead the Pirates and three blocks on the night. The Wildcat's Desmian Greer scored 19 points to lead SUNYIT.
The win improves the Pirates to 3-5 on the season. They remain at home to play the final game of the Classic, facing Howard Payne University on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.