Crusaders Top Central State in OT; Advance to D-II Independent Final
Friday, February 17, 2006
Crusaders Top Central State in OT; Advance to D-II Independent Final

FORT MYERS, FL – The North Greenville University men’s basketball team scored five unanswered points in the final 25 seconds of regulation to force overtime and eventually defeat Central State University (Ohio) 76-74 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II-Independent Tournament at Alico Arena on Friday night.

The Crusaders advance to face Florida Gulf Coast University in the championship game on Saturday night.

The Crusaders fell behind early as Central State’s William Gaines and Ryan Rogers gave the Marauders a quick 5-0 lead. North Greenville responded with a 17-0 run over the next five minutes that was highlighted by back-to-back lay ups by Andrew Nipper and three consecutive three-point baskets, two by PJ Schumacher and one by Jordan Richmond.

Central State answered with a 14-0 run of their own over the next four minutes that was capped by Daryl Bennett pulling down an offensive rebound of a missed Gaines three-pointer and converting the lay up to give the Marauders a 19-17 lead.

The Crusaders built the lead to five on four different occasions before jumpers by Bennett and Daryl Brownlee cut the North Greenville lead to 37-36 at halftime.

“The first half was all about runs,” said Crusader head coach Chad Lister. “We put a good one together, and then they answered. I was more than a little disappointed with how the half ended, but give them credit, Central State turned up the defensive pressure and was rewarded at the buzzer.”

The second half opened with Central State scoring the first seven points of the period on a Brownlee three-pointer and consecutive baskets by Thomas Tiemeyer, giving the Marauders a 43-37 lead. Six minutes later, a pair of free throws by North Greenville’s Richmond knotted the game at 45-45.

Central State regained the lead on the ensuing possession as Brownlee hit his second three-pointer of the night. The teams traded baskets, forcing three ties and six lead changes over the next six minutes. A steal and lay up at the seven-minute mark by Mark Loften and then five straight points by Gaines gave the Marauders their biggest lead of the night at 65-57 with 4:39 remaining.

Central State maintained that eight-point lead until a Nipper jump shot cut the lead to 67-61 with 2:41 remaining. With 2:29 remaining, after Tiemeyer and Nipper both made one of two free throw opportunities for their respective teams, the Crusaders trailed 68-62.

After stopping Central State on back-to-back possessions, North Greenville’s Josh Burgess made a short jumper in the lane to cut the Marauder lead to four with under one minute to play. The Crusaders played a solid defensive possession, forcing a bad shot by Central State’s Bennett as the shot clock expired. The Marauders pulled the offensive rebound, forcing Schumacher to foul Shawn Teague with 25 seconds remaining. Teague made one of two free throws, giving Central State a 69-64 lead.

Amonzo Gantt scored a quick lay up for North Greenville to cut the deficit to 69-66 and then forced the ball out of bounds off a Central State player. On the ensuing out of bounds play, Richmond hit his third three-pointer of the night to tie the score.

After neither team scored on their first two possessions of overtime, Central State finally broke the tie as Teimeyer scored on an offensive put back. North Greenville’s Nipper then knotted the score at 71-71 by making two free throws. Following another Central State basket, Schumacher made his fifth three-pointer of the game to give the Crusaders the one-point lead.

With the score tied at 76-76, North Greenville’s Richmond made a penetrating jumper to give the Crusaders a 78-76 lead with 12 seconds remaining. Central State’s Gaines missed a three-pointer as time expired.

“Without a doubt, Jordan Richmond hit some big shots for us tonight,” added Lister. “Last season, he missed this tournament with a knee injury and seems to be making up for lost time.

“However, every one of our guys contributed to tonight’s success. PJ Schumacher buried some big three-pointers, Andrew Nipper defended well and knocked down some big shots, and Amonzo Gantt makes the great finish and then forces the turnover at the end of regulation. Guys are just stepping up when needed and gettingt he job done for us.”

Richmond led the way for the Crusaders with 26 points. Nipper finished with 17 points, while Schumacher added 15. Gantt rounded out the double-digit scoring with 15, to go along with his ten rebounds. Burgess finished the game with a career-high ten assists.

For Central State, Gaines finished with 24 points, while Bennett scored 19.

With the win, North Greenville improved to 13-16 on the season and will face Florida Gulf Coast University in the finals of the NCAA Division II-Independent Tournament on Saturday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30.