The Blackburn College Men's Basketball Team rallied from a 24-point first half deficit, but fell just short in a 126-119 loss to Greenville University in the Championship Game of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon in Greenville. Blackburn's best season since the 2004-05 season ends with a record of 15-12.
Blackburn started off the game with great execution off the Greenville pressure defense and jumped out to a 17-8 lead at the 16:12 mark of the first half. Greenville then went on a 21-4 run over the next three and a half minutes minutes to take the lead at 29-21. After a Duncan King three-pointer, Blackburn went cold again over the next 2:53 and scoreless in seven straight possessions as the Panthers jumped out to a 44-24 lead with 9:14 to go in the first half. Greenville later took the largest lead of the game at 4:41 with the score 59-35. Blackburn closed out the half with a 15-8 surge to trail 67-50 at the half.
The Panthers shot 50 percent from the field in the first half including 9 of 18 from behind the arc, and a ridiculous 18 of 19 from the foul line.
Blackburn began chopping away at the lead time and time again but the Panthers would answer. A Nigel Ferrell layup at the 11:45 mark finally cut the deficit to ten points at 90-80. Greenville then scored seven straight points to bump the lead back up to 17. Back came the Beavers as Bryson Kirby knocked down a three-pointer to cut the lead to eleven at 99-88 with 8:30 to play. Blackburn cut further into the lead on a Karson Hayes three-pointer to make it 104-95 with 6:47 to play. Blackburn kept clawing back getting the deficit to just four points at 110-106 with 4:07 to go. Unfortunately as furious the repeated comeback attempts were, the Beavers were not able to make it a one-possession game. With 50 seconds left and Blackburn trailing by a five the Beavers missed a wide-open layup which ended up being a back-breaking miss.
"I am so proud of our guys and the effort they not only displayed again today by never giving in, but their effort and commitment to one another all year," said Blackburn Head Coach Steve Kollar.
Blackburn placed five players in double figures with Karson Hayes scoring 28 points to lead the Beavers. Nigel Ferrell scored 21, Duncan King 20, Jamaya Wyatt 15, and Malcolm Scott 14. After a tough shooting first half from behind the arc, (4 of 16), Blackburn came back in the final 20 minutes to shoot six of twelve. The Beavers struggled at the foul line shooting just 66 percent at 19 of 29.
The game was the final in a career for three seniors, Malcolm Scott, Reed Rusten and Jake Lochhead. "We had some special seniors in Jake, Reed and Malcolm that helped show the younger guys how to carry themselves as a leader on a daily basis. I'm so proud of those guys and every young man in our program for what we were able to accomplish togehter this year," said Kollar.
The Beavers, who were picked to finish ninth in the pre-season poll, surprised many others around the league in putting together this winning season. "I had an incredible staff and a team that bought in . . . I can't ask for anymore," said Kollar. "They should all hold their heads high and be proud, I definitely am!"
Scott and King Named to All-Tournament Team
Malcolm Scott and Duncan King were both named to the SLIAC All-Tournament Team. King scored 20 points in both tournament games while Scott scored 31 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in his two games.