Sullivan emerged from a first quarter shooting funk and pulled away late to secure a 52-43 victory over the Union Wildcats on Tuesday night.
The Eagles (16-7, 5-1) won for the third straight game and out-hustled Union on the boards. Despite lacking anyone that could match up with Union’s 6-4 Brandon Ford and 6-9 Brian Borgmann,
Sullivan still dominated the glass and gave themselves plenty of second chance opportunities to push past the ‘Cats.
Adam Weiland led Sullivan with 16 points and helped contribute to a flurry of 3-pointers that held off a late first-half charge from Union.
On a night when the shots were not falling, Sullivan’s defense again stepped up, benefiting from 12 Union turnovers in the first half.
Sullivan was coming off one of its best defensive performances of the season, holding the Pacific Indians to just 42 points four nights earlier.
Defense again keyed the Eagles against Union, which turned the ball over on its first three possessions of both the first and second quarters.
Sullivan only briefly trailed in the contest, taking over for good on a three-point play by Justin Biermann in the first quarter that gave the Eagles an 8-7 lead.
The Eagles led 11-8 after the period.
Against Union’s 2-3 zone, anchored inside by Ford and Borgmann, the Eagles set up around the perimeter and fired 3-pointers. Chris Erxleben’s trey to start the second quarter gave Sullivan a six-point lead, but the Wildcats would eventually get closer.
Nick Ziegler’s three-point play with under four minutes left in the half moved Union within three, 18-15, then TJ Vitt’s layup cut Sullivan’s lead down to just one with 2:20 remaining.
But Sullivan was saved by the 3-pointer.
Heath Schatz, Weiland and Michael McDermott hit three straight 3-pointers, which gave Sullivan a 27-20 lead with less than a minute to go in the half.
A basket by Ziegler got Union back within five as Sullivan took a 27-22 lead into the intermission.
Blake Hulsey, who sat out most of the first half in foul trouble, did his best to bring the Wildcats back to life.
Sullivan opened up a 31-24 lead on a layup by JC Beckett, only to have Hulsey knock down a 3-pointer on the other end.
After a tip-in by Weiland and a handful of scoreless possessions for both teams, Hulsey again sunk a3-pointer, tightening the score at 33-30. He had eight points in the period.
The Eagles responded with two free throws by Biermann, then a big 3-pointer by Beckett, who gave Sullivan a 38-30 lead, the biggest of the night.
Weiland closed the third quarter by missing a short jumper, but getting his own rebound and scoring with time expiring, sending the Eagles to the fourth quarter with a 41-31 lead.
Union would come as close as five, but a corner 3-pointer by Biermann proved to be the dagger.
Ryan Juergens would score off a Union turnover on the next possession, opening up a 10-point lead and letting the Eagles coast to a win.