Milligan stem tide versus Covenant

By Matt Hill

   The Milligan College men's basketball team seemed to be in control of its game with Covenant on Saturday with eight minutes to go in the contest.
   Just a few minutes later, the Buffaloes were just trying to hang on.
   Milligan saw a 15-point lead cut down to one before the 'Buffs regained momentum in a 69-60 triumph over the Scots at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.
   Milligan looked to be sitting pretty with a 56-41 advantage, but had to make a 9-1 run in the final two minutes of the game just to hold on.
   Milligan guard Michael Morrell, who despite being a junior is probably the most experienced player on the team, chalks that up to youth.
   "We're young," he said. "No matter how you look at it we're still learning. We're trying to get better every single game. And that's the difference from high school to college. Teams can jump on you like that quick. We've worked on it in practice, and we're still getting better."
   It took a late rally by the 'Buffs to avoid the upset, but the Milligan defense that had struggled in the latter part of the second half stepped up once again at the end.
   After the 18-4 Covenant run to put the Scots within one, Milligan held Covenant without a field goal in the final two minutes.
   "We played together as a team," Morrell said. "We had some players that stepped up towards the end of the game, and knocked down some foul shots. I think we played together as a team, and we got down and did it defensively."
   It was definitely a game of spurts, as Milligan led by more than 10 four different times, only to have Covenant come back.
   "I think it's inexperience," Milligan head coach Tony Wallingford said. "The big picture was that we just played in spurts. We played offense in spurts and were successful, we played defense in spurts and were successful. But when we didn't have any intensity or execution, they took advantage of it.
   It was another big night for Morrell. The former Elizabethton High School standout finished with 23 points.
   "Michael did it tonight without hitting threes," Wallingford said. "That was encouraging to me, because we want him to be more than just a shooter. If he scores just hitting threes, somebody is going to shut him down. But if he scores going to the basket, inside-out threes, and scores in a variety of ways, he's going to be hard to guard."
   Jonathon Harris also had another huge game for the 'Buffs, as he netted 21 on the night. Craig Emmert added 14 for the victors.
   Milligan improves to 8-8 overall and 4-3 in the AAC.