No. 14 Generals weather Warriors, advance to NAIA Second Round
Kansas City, Mo. – For the third straight season, the #14 LSUA men’s basketball team will enjoy an extended stay in the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament, surviving a tough back and forth contest against #20 Lewis-Clark State, defeating the Warriors in the first round contest 77-71 Wednesday morning at Municipal Auditorium.
After giving up the game’s first basket, a three pointer, the Generals got a things rolling in the right direction, going on a 16-2 run right after that started with a Chris Vickers three pointer to tie the score and culminated on another three by Vickers to give LSUA its largest lead of the game for either team just 4:30 into the contest at 16-5. Lewis-Clark State would cut it down to seven points before another 4-0 push by the Generals reestablished that early 11-point advantage on a Brandon Moss steal and dunk with 12:50 left in the first half to make it 20-9.
But the Warriors started to slowly whittle away at LSUA’s lead, steadily outscoring the Generals 18-7 over the next five minutes to tie the game up at 27-27 on a Cory Dollarhide three pointer. Three pointers by Jordin Williams and Shannon James, Jr., sandwiched around a Warrior bucket, helped LSUA get the lead back out to four points at 33-29 with just more than four minutes remaining in the first half. But five straight by LCSC gave the Warriors the lead back on another Dollarhide three pointer with less than 3:30 left that made it 34-33. The rest of the half involved two more lead changes, a tie, and Chris Vickers flying in and putting back a missed LSUA three pointer with just as the horn sounded to put the Generals out front 39-37 as the two teams went to the halftime locker room.
The start to the second half wasn’t as good for LSUA, with the Warriors tying it out of the break, and then back-to-back turnovers led to easy lay-up for Lewis-Clark State to give the Warriors their largest lead of the game at 43-39 just more than a minute into the period. After LSUA answered with six straight of their own to reclaim the lead on a William Claiborne lay-up, back-to-back threes by Dana Abe again pushed LCSC out to a four point advantage at 49-45 with 15:20 left in the game.
But the Generals started to lock down on defense, shutting down the Warriors while the offense regained the lead and slowly pushed further ahead with a 10-0 run that took more than four minutes off the clock. Brandon Moss started the run with a made free throw and capped it with a pair of makes from the charity stripe to give LSUA a 55-49 lead with less than 11:30 left in the game. The Generals would not trail in the contest again.
With LSUA up seven after Chris Vickers split a pair of free throws, Lewis-Clark State would use a 6-0 spurt to pull back within one point at 58-57 as Andre McCowan converted a free throw to complete a three point play. But Jordin Williams answered those three points with a three-pointer of his own to make it a four point game. Another steal led to another Moss dunk and the LSUA lead was back up to six points at 63-57. After trading two points each, the Generals would get the lead out to eight points on a pair of Jordin William free throws with just more than five minutes remaining.
The Generals maintained the three possession lead into the closing minutes where the Warriors scored four straight to get it back to a three-point game on a Cory Dollarhide lay-up with just more than a minute left. But LSUA closed it out, getting a lay-up from William Claiborne on the ensuing possession to get it back to five, and then defense and free throws would ensure another LSUA game in the tournament.
“It took us to the second half to really lock in defensively,” said LSUA head coach Larry Cordaro. “We guarded harder early to midway through the second half, and I think that was the difference in the ball game, where we kept them to single-digits for about a ten-minute span, plus we were able to turn them over 19 times, which is unusual for them, since they are a well-coached team. We’re fortunate to have played today and now we get to rest and recover and watch the game later tonight that will determine our next opponent.”
Jordin Williams led the Generals attack with a game high 23 points, hitting six shots with two made three pointers. William Claiborne finished with 17 points on a perfect six of six shooting game, while also making five free throws. Brandon Moss capped things for the LSUA with 16 points on six made buckets and four made free throws.
The Generals finished the game hitting 47.2% of their shots from the field, including five of their 16 three point attempts. LSUA used its size well, getting to the free throw line at will in the second half, hitting 19 of 25 at the charity stripe in the second half en route to a 22 of 29 day at the stripe, a plus seven points at the line for the Generals.
#14 LSUA (26-7) now moves on to the second round where they’ll take on the winner of Wednesday’s second to last game of the day, #1 The Master’s Mustangs and Peru State Bobcats. Tip-off of the second round contest is set for 12:30 P.M. on Friday at Municipal Auditorium.
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