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While many of us were either finishing up last-minute research papers or sitting at home waiting to stuff our faces with a delicious Thanksgiving Day feast, the APSU men’s basketball team enjoyed the scenery in Cancun, Mexico, as they competed in the Mayan Division of the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge held on Tuesday, Nov. 20, and Wednesday, Nov. 21.
The Govs split their pair of games, squeaking past Western Carolina, 72-71, in their first game before falling to Gardner-Webb, 72-62, in the Mayan Division championship game. Gardner-Webb defeated Howard to reach the finals. DePaul, Wichita State, Iowa and Western Kentucky competed in the Riviera Division.
APSU used big runs against Carolina to help secure their second victory of the season and end a two-game losing streak.
The Govs found themselves in a hole when a Carolina 14-2 run left APSU trailing 28-16 in the first half. Carolina grew their lead to 14 before going into the half with a 10-point lead.
In the second half, veteran Anthony Campbell and newcomer Travis Betran led the charge, sparking a strong second half.
Campbell finished with 21 points and Betran finished 22, accounting for over half the points.
A 12-2 run led by five points from Campbell cut the Carolina lead to 50-48. After trading baskets, Betran started a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach, connecting on two consecutive three-pointers to start the run that put them ahead, 68-58.
Carolina had a chance to tie, forcing an APSU turnover in the final 20 seconds down 72-69, but a missed three-point and a Chris Horton block kept Carolina from scoring except for a lay-up as time expired.
The Govs fell victim to the same M.O. against Gardner-Webb, as the Bulldogs used a 12-3 run in the second half to put the game away against the Govs.
The Govs did pull within three points, but Gardner-Webb kept pushing the lead higher late in the game and eventually scoring the final seven points as the Govs missed their final seven shots during the game’s last three minutes of play.
Betran and Horton both made the all-tournament team. Betran had 18 points in the Gardner-Webb game to go along with his 22 in the Western Carolina games. Horton only had 12 points in both games total, but had four blocks in each contest.
The Cancun Challenge left the team with a 2-3 record on the season. The Govs look to gain a winning record when they take on Berea College on Wednesday, Nov. 28, and Fairfield on Saturday, Dec. 1. TAS