Withrow and Woodward take the floor in Evanston. Photo by Theopolis K. Caldwell Sr.

Withrow and Woodward take the floor in Evanston. Photo by Theopolis K. Caldwell Sr.

By Theopolis K. Caldwell Sr.

The Withrow Tigers defeated the Woodward Bulldogs 54-37 in Evanston on February 7. The win put the Tigers (11-8, 8-3 ECC) in prime position to gain traction in the Division I standings with three games remaining, while the Bulldogs (10-8, 5-3 CMAC) dropped the seventh of their last ten contests.

The game started out slow for both teams as there were plenty of missed shots. The first points weren’t scored until a pair of free throws were made by Withrow’s Abba Lawal with 5:31 left. Both teams combined for 14 points at the end of the first quarter. Woodward led with an 8-6 edge.

Toward the middle of the second quarter, the Bulldogs led, but the Tigers battled back with timely defense, especially from Lawal blocking a layup attempt. The Tigers finished the final three minutes of the quarter on a 6-3 run, with Withtrow, 14, Woodward, 16, at the end of the first half.

In the second half, Withrow would have an offensive spurt aided by a suffocating defense to outscore Woodward with an 8-2 run with 4:02 to go. The Tigers lead by key layup’s from Mike Hill Jr. and John Lawrence to make it 24-18. Woodward would not give up, forcing Withrow to turn the ball over on one of Hakeem Thomas’ five steals of the night that ended with a wide open pass to Terry Durham for a thunderous dunk, which led to Withrow’s Head Coach Shaun O’Connell to call a timeout to speak to his team.

“We had some turnovers that kept us in the f old,’’ said O’Connell.

With score 25-22 with 15 seconds left in the third, Cooper, who led the Bulldogs with 15 points on 6-15 shooting attempted a 3-pointer to tie the game at 25, but his shot never hit the rim as it air-balled with time expiring. It would be the last time that Woodward would get a chance to come that close, as the Tigers would outscore Woodward 29-15 to decide the contest. The bulk of Withrow’s scoring would be aided by an efficient night by senior guard Timmy Cottingham’s 14 points on 6-8 shooting.

“Timmy did a fantastic job in the second half as he attacked the basket,” said O’Connell.

Both teams look to improve in the conference standings.

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