After fouling out with 6:45 remaining, there wasn’t much the standout senior could do in Robeson County’s first hardwood installment of the Backyard Brawl.
Lumberton’s up-close and personal man-to-man defense limited Jones to a season-low three points as the Pirates dominated the second half of Tuesday’s 68-51 win over the Rams in Pembroke.
In a matter of minutes, Lumberton’s transition game took advantage of the point guard’s absence with a pair of breakaway layups and consecutive 3-pointers from Christian McRae. McRae led all scorers with 23 points. Nineteen of that total came in the second half.
“Our defense opened things up for us,” McRae said. “We didn’t play too well in the first half, but (we) made a lot of good passes and good shots when we came out in the second.”
With the victory, Lumberton (12-6, 4-1) moved into sole possession of second place in the Southeastern Conference after outscoring Swett 46-30 after intermission.
“We wanted to get a separation gap with the rest of the SEC,” Lumberton coach Ted Gaskins said. “We showed our players the standings as of the 23rd and we knew a loss to Swett would’ve created a log jam in the middle.”
Jones, who came into the game averaging 18 points per contest, picked up his third foul with 2:32 left in the second quarter after reaching in on Floyd Strother’s drive to the hole. Jones’ only bucket came on a layup in the third that brought the Rams within six at 35-29.
“Their pressure defense hurt us and their traps on the wing,” Swett coach Jeremy Sampson said. “We didn’t realize there at the end Juwan had his fourth foul already. So that wasn’t good either.”
Lumberton countered Swett’s brief run with an explosion of its own. Dorian Davis brought the Pirates bench to its feet late in the quarter with a behind-the-back baseline bounce pass to McRae for a layup. Davis finished with 11 points and six assists while shooting guard Austin McNeill poured in 16.
James Chavis was Swett’s only player in double figures with 19.
“We’ve got to play these guys again, so we aren’t giving our secrets away,” Gaskins said. “(Juwan’s) a great player, but we just decided to play him and get in his face.”
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org