HUTCHINSON — The Vincennes University Trail Blazers was able to pull away late from a close game to claim an 86-82 win over Motlow State in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Tournament in Hutchinson.
Vincennes, 33-1, takes on Florida Southwest State at 8 p.m. today.
“I thought we were about to get it comfortable at the minute-and-a-half mark, but we missed a couple of rebounds,” Vincennes coach Todd Franklin said. “We should have been up nine with the ball twice. We could have gotten out here a little easier than it turned out. I thought Motlow played well defensively in the first half. We had a long layoff, and I though that would affect us offensively, but it was the defense that suffered tonight. We did things on defense we usually don’t do. Credit Motlow, they shot the ball well behind the line in the first half. Not so well in the second half. Hopefully that was because we guarded them a little better.”
Vincennes put five players in double figures led by Keith Clemons with 19 points, followed by Lony Francis Jr. with 16, Isaiah Tisdale with 14, Ty Gadsden with 13 and C.J. Hedgepeth with 10. Tisdale added 10 rebounds. Gadsden had 10 assists.
Rashawn Fredericks led Motlow State with 36 points, hitting 14 of 26 from the field. Isaiah Hart scored 17 and Leonardo Castillo Jr. added 11. Dillon Smith had 10 rebounds, followed by Fredericks with nine.
Motlow State ends the season 23-8. Coach Arthur Latham declined to attend the media post-game session.
The deciding stat of the game was Vincennes outscored the Bucks 27-15 off the bench.
“We had some sloppy turnovers, but we had 24 assists to 12 turnovers,: Franklin said. “We missed some free throws, but nothing outlandishly bad. Offensively, we were pretty good — patient against that zone. We didn’t play as well defensively, which is unusual for us.”
The biggest lead in the first half was Vincennes by six. Motlow State led by as many as four. The Trail Blazers made a 6-0 run to end the half and lead 44-40.
The difference in the half was Vincennes seven of 14 from 3-point range, while Motlow State was five of 10.
The first 10 minutes of the second half resembled the first. A Clemons trey with 8:12 left in regulation put Vincennes up by eight. A Fredericks slam on a rebound got Motlow State back within three with 2:04 in regulation. Elevin seconds later, Francis Jr. answered with a layup, but missed a free throw. Vincennes did make two stops, hitting five of six free throws to lead by nine with 55.4 seconds remaining.
“We don’t know who we play,” Franklin said. “Florida Southwestern is talented. Hutch is going to have however many this place holds. They are both good basketball teams. We have a short turnaround. We have to play better defensively, which is unusual for us to say. We’ll get ourselves grounded.
“People talk about (top-ranked) Indian Hills getting beat like its a one against 16, but that’s not what it is. In the NJCAA Tournament, you have a higher percentage of quality teams. They start at 68, but by the time they get to 16, look who’s left. In ours, even if a top team gets beat in district, they are going to be here. In the first round, there were no upsets. You could argue about some of the teams that got in and some that didn’t, but when you get to the final 16, you have 16 of the best 20 in the country — and you have to play four in a row. You ask me what you have to do. You have to play tough, smart basketball.”
MOTLOW STATE (23-8) — Hart 7-19 0-0 17, Corley 2-7 2-3 6, Fredericks 14-26 5-6 36, Fraser 1-7 0-0 3, Smith 2-4 0-0 5, Castillo Jr. 2-5 6-7 11, Rayford 0-1 0-0 0, Yarbrough 0-1 4-6 2, Hill 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 28-70 17-22 82.
VINCENNES (33-1) — Hedgepeth 3-4 2-3 10, Gadsden 3-11 5-6 13, Tisdale 4-12 5-8 14, Francis Jr. 7-10 2-3 16, Dixon 3-3 0-0 6, Clemons 6-10 3-5 19, Kukobat 2-5 2-4 6, Mbumba 1-2 0-0 2, TOTALS 29-57 19-29 86.
Total fouls — MS 23, VU 17. Technical fouls — MS: Fraser 18:00-2h. Fouled out — MS: Corley 2:22-2h. 3-point shooting — MS 9-28 (Hart 3-10, Corley 0-1, Fredericks 3-11, Fraser 1-3, Smith 1-1, Castillo 1-2), VU 9-20 (Hedgepeth 2-3, Gadsden 2-8, Tisdale 1-2, Clemons 4-7). Rebounds — MS 38 (Smith 10), VU 37 (Tisdale 11). Assists — MS 14 (Hart 4), VU 24 (Gadsden 10). Turnovers — MS 7 (Hart 3), VU 12 (Gadsden 3, Tisdale 3). Blocked shots — MS 2 (Frederick 1, Yarbrough 1), VU 5 (Francis Jr. 2, Mbumba 2). Steals — MS 9 (Hart 4), VU 4 (Hedgepeth 2). Officials — n/a. Attendance — n/a.