BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - A 7-0 run down the stretch sent visiting Reinhardt (Ga.) College past Union College in a wild 82-77 Appalachian Athletic Conference contest Wednesday.
"It was a tough home loss, but I am very pleased with the effort," said Union coach Sean Gillespie. "The guys played hard, but we just didn't execute and finish well down the end."
It was a see-saw battle in the second half with neither team owning a lead larger than seven points and the margin hovering around two or three for much of the period.
Union was up 71-66 with 4:07 to play, but six consecutive points by Will Lewis pushed Reinhardt ahead 72-71 with 2:41 remaining. The Bulldogs countered with an Ihsan Phillips (Philadelphia, Pa.) 3-pointer to grab 74-72 edge at the 2:25 mark.
After the teams swapped treys, Union led 77-75 with 1:03 to go. Kordel Alexander hit a jumper with 38 seconds left to tie the game at 77-77, and a Lewis free throw put Reinhardt up 78-77 with 17 seconds on the clock.
Curtis Stephens (Detroit, Mich.) drove the lane with six seconds on the clock, but his shot rimmed out and Carrlos Lyles was fouled making the rebound. Lyles hit both free throws, and Lewis tacked on two more following a Bulldog turnover to seal the 82-77 Eagle win.
This was the first conference home loss for Union, which dropped to 10-11 overall and 4-4 in the AAC. Reinhardt improved to 11-5 overall and 5-2 in league play.
The Bulldogs played their second straight game without injured players Beau Brown (Athens, Tenn.) and Dan Penick (Ludlow, Ky.), and it was just the second game with the team for newcomer Phillips and the sixth for Stephens.
"We are still trying to figure things out. We've got some guys out and we've got some new guys in, so it's going to take a little time to work everything out," Gillespie added. "But I like what I'm seeing, and I believe we're on the right path."
Darrel Jackson (Jonesboro, Ark.) paced Union with 21 points and six assists, while Stephens added 13 points and five helpers. Phillips knocked in 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds with Kearney Demus (Lexington, Ky.) chipping in 11 points.
For Reinhardt, Lewis posted a double-double with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Alexander scored 16.
The teams shot the ball well with both just under 50 percent. Union hit 30-of-61 shots (49.2 percent) with Reinhardt making 27-of-55 (49.1 percent). The Eagles held the edge at the foul line in going 20-for-27 as compared Union's 8-for-14 showing.
Union will travel to UVa-Wise Saturday for another conference showdown. Game time is set for 2 p.m.