The Hazard Bulldogs opened their 2014 bid for the Sweet Sixteen with the Cordia Lions. The Bulldogs lost the previous two meetings by a total of three points.
Cordia opened the game with a slight lead, but Hazard managed to keep things close. The Bulldogs finished the first period trailing by one at 15-16.
The Bulldogs’ defensive pressure began to take its toll in the second quarter as they forced the Lions out of the paint. Hazard was also able to pick up several baskets in transition, giving them the 32-26 advantage at the break.
The momentum stayed with the Bulldogs in the third period as they went up by double-digits in the frame. With eight minutes left to play, Hazard held the 47-38 lead.
The two teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter, and with 5:27 on the clock, the Bulldogs were up 57-47. At that point, the Lions would turn up the heat in an attempt to get back into the game.
The frantic pace seemed to favor Cordia as they were able to cut the lead to three with a minute remaining (63-60). Hazard was able to hold their composure down the stretch, and the Lions were forced to put them on the line.
Cordia was unable to force the ball out of Matt Thompson’s hands, and they had to put him on the free throw line. Thompson went 11 of 12 from the charity stripe, securing the 70-65 win for the Bulldogs.
Hazard (70) Mack Hall 2, Hunter Hardy 2, Chris Hudson 28, Collier Mobelini 9, Josh Hollan 9, Griffin Wells 1 and Matt Thompson 19.
Cordia (65) Cunningham 23, Tagaloa 12, Lucien 6, Chisholm 4, Ortiz 6, Catchings 5, Chattman 2 and Frimpong 8.
Tony McGuire can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.