SHREVEPORT, La. - Junior Regis Johnson reached double-digit scoring for the first time in his collegiate career, while senior Travion Kirkendoll led the Gents with 35 points, but Centenary (0-1) fell to East Texas Baptist (1-0) 89-81 in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night, November 15.
Johnson scored 15 on 6-for-8 shooting, while Kirkendoll scored the most points in a season opener in Centenary's NCAA Division III era. Sophomore Cedric Harris narrowly missed the double-double with 18 points and a game best nine boards.
However, East Texas Baptist used a 20-11 edge in turnovers and made 11 threes to Centenary's three in the eight-point win.
Kirkendoll hit a three early in the game to give the Gents a 5-4 advantage, their only lead of the game, but the Tigers answered with a triple by Westin Riddick. East Texas Baptist never trailed the rest of the game.
Centenary trailed 21-14 with nine minutes until half, but a 9-2 run brought the game to its only tie. Harris was fouled shooting a three and hit all three free throws to cut the deficit to four. Freshman Raylon Hardy hit a pair from the stripe, but Riddick answered for the Tigers with a layup off an offensive board. Harris hit a jumper and Kirkendoll picked up a steal and the fastbreak layup to tie the game.
East Texas Baptist picked up a pair of Nathan Fontenot threes right before half to push the visitors' advantage to seven at the break. With Centenary down two, Fontenot hit a corner three while being fouled. He converted from the line to push the deficit to six. After a Gents turnover, Kirkendoll grabbed a steal and made the fastbreak dunk. However, Fontenot ended the half with a three as East Texas Baptist led 43-36 at intermission.
Fontenot came off the bench and hit 5-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three, to score 17. Robby Dooley led the Tigers with 23.
Centenary trailed by 10 shortly after half, but scored seven straight to come within a possession. Junior Treylan Matthews scored his only bucket of the game after an offensive rebound, while Kirkendoll made a lay-up. After a Tigers turnover, Kirkendoll hit front iron on a three, but it went straight up and in the hoop to cut the deficit to three. However, Riddick answered with a three for East Texas Baptist.
Riddick added 14 points for the Tigers.
Up eight, East Texas Baptist used a 12-2 run to push the lead to 18 - its largest of the game. Jordan Gosey made an old-fashioned three, Dooley hit a pair from the line and then a three, and Gosey split from the charity stripe. Johnson answered for the Maroon and White with a fastbreak layup, but Landin Brown hit a three as East Texas Baptist led 79-61 with 6:30 left.
Centenary returns to action this weekend for the annual Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference/Southern Athletic Association challenge, hosted by Austin College in Sherman, Texas. The Gents battle Millsaps at 5 p.m. Saturday, November 18, before finishing the weekend Sunday, November 19, against Hendrix at 1 p.m.