MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — After having their 2018-2019 season end prematurely, the Walters State men's basketball team was looking to get off to a quick start to the new season against Combine Academy.
Friday night they did just that.
Using their pressure defense and depth, the Senators took it to Combine Academy early and often as they defeated the Goats, 98-47, in their opening game of the Spartans Tip Off Classic.
"It's nice to have a win to start the season," Walters State head coach Bill Carlyle said. "I thought we played very well defensively. We took them out of everything they wanted to do. All in all, I am happy with today's win."
Things started sloppy for the Senators who saw themselves trailing to begin the game. Combine Academy used timely three-pointers to take an 11-9 lead early.
However, Walters State's Anthony Jones silenced the Goats as he threw down a dunk to tie the game. That dunk, and an ensuing alley-oop, seemed to wake up the Senators as they went on an 18-0 run to take a 26-10 lead. Jermize Weddle hit two three-pointers during the run.
The Senators used their full-court press to frustrate Combine Academy. Walters State forced three 10-second violations in the first half and four in the game.
WSCC caused 37 total turnovers in the game and had the Goats at a loss on both sides.
"They weren't very good at handling the ball," Carlyle said. "We're trying to have more pressure on defense. We played normal defense the first part of the preseason, but I thought we would just be mediocre if we kept doing that.
"So we're using a backline defense, putting pressure on the ball, trying to keep the ball out of the middle and stopping transition."
Bench play provided a stark difference for both teams and a huge advantage for Walters State. While Combine Academy had just three bench players to rotate, the Senators had 11 players on the bench to rotate.
Walters State used all of them, sending in mass subs when substituting to keep their players fresh which provided a huge advantage when running a full-court press defense. Paris Taylor and Jones led the team in minutes but played just 16 apiece.
"I'd like to (keep using mass subs)," Carlyle said. "Because that way we can stay fresh and pressure more. It's probably not realistic to say we will keep doing it, but we do have a rotation of about 10, maybe more. They're all pretty good, I think. They all can play, and it's unusual to have that many guys who can play."
Walters State didn't slow down in the second half, opening the half on an 18-4 run thanks in large part due to Luiz Machado who had six points early.
Taylor led the team in scoring with 12 points. He was one rebound short of a double-double. Boyd and Kobe Powell added 11 points each. In total, 16 players saw action for Walters State with just two seeing less than double digit minutes.
Walters State will be back in action on Saturday as they conclude the Senators Tip Off Classic against Caldwell Community College. That game tips off at 7 p.m.