Davis nets 31 as No. 2 Hawks blow past Emmanuel, 93-78
By Matt Green
FRANKLIN SPRINGS, Ga. -- Chad Warner could finally afford to smile on Saturday night as his team prepared to leave Franklin Springs, Ga.
He had plenty of reason to grin -- he and his Hawks had gotten that pesky monkey off of their backs.
C.J. Davis scored a career-high 31 points, Anthony Banks recorded a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds and second-ranked Shorter locked down on host Emmanuel College in the second half to post a 93-78 victory over the Lions in a crucial Southern States Athletic Conference East Division matchup.
The win improves Shorter to 17-0 overall and 8-0 in the SSAC. Shorter won in Franklin Springs for the first time in three years and took down the reigning conference champions with a dominant performance in the final 20 minutes after going into the halftime locker room with a one point lead.
Davis, an NAIA All-America selection last season as a sophomore at Union (Tenn.), scored 18 of his points in the first half and finished 11-for-13 from the floor (5-for-5 from 3-point range). He had three scoring spurts -- one in the first half and two in the second -- that sparked Shorter at key moments of the game.
He scored 10 straight points during a 13-0 run by the Hawks in the first half that turned a 26-23 deficit into a 36-26 lead with 7:26 left until halftime. Seven of those tallies came courtesy of a 3-point play and 4-point play on back-to-back possessions before he capped his personal scoring spree with one of his five treys.
Shorter led by just one at the half, but Davis notched eight points during an 11-4 Shorter run that put the Hawks up 12 in the early stages of the second frame. He then hit a 3 and drove the paint for a layup during an 11-0 spurt that extended Shorter's lead to 21 with 4:20 to play.
The Hawks led by as much as 24 in the second half on a Banks field goal at the 2:16 mark.
Graham Maxwell paced Emmanuel with 22 points, but scored just four points after halftime. His 3-pointer as time expired in the first half cut Emmanuel's deficit to 47-46 at the half, but that was last real breath of life Emmanuel could muster.
Shorter outscored Emmanuel 15-1 over a 5:50 stretch in the second half. Francisco Luano made 1 of 2 from the foul line to account for Emmanuel's only point during the drought while Shorter piled up the points behind outstanding performances in the second half from Banks, Davis, Walter Hill and Eric Nix.
Hill, who scored just three points in the first half while sitting for over 11 minutes with two fouls, scored 15 of his 18 in the final 20 minutes. Nix finished with 14 points and nine assists while adding four rebounds and three steals to his complete effort.
Banks was unstoppable inside, snaring six offensive rebounds and going 6-for-11 from the field. The double-double is the first of his Shorter career.
Shorter's recent history in Franklin Springs was bleak to say the least.
The Hawks were routed by 25 two seasons ago and suffered a 16-point loss at Emmanuel last season. In both of those games, Shorter had fallen behind early and been unable to rally back into the game. Poor shooting and untimely turnovers had haunted the Hawks in each of those setbacks.
That wasn't the case on Saturday, as Shorter shot 50 percent in the first half and an incredible 64 percent in the second. The Hawks were 11-for-15 from beyond the arc and continued their hot free throw shooting, finishing 18 of 25 from the charity stripe.
The Hawks took care of the basketball and committed 12 turnovers. On the other end of the floor, Shorter forced 15 giveaways and held Emmanuel to 46 percent -- a respectable percentage given Emmanuel's knack for capitalizing on home court advantage.
Shorter will now have to turn its attention to a significant SSAC East matchup next Thursday (8 pm) at the Winthrop-King Centre when 10th-ranked Southern Poly comes to Rome. Poly advanced to the SSAC Tournament title game last season and made a second straight appearance in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The Hornets, also unbeaten in conference play this season, have won nine straight.