THREE STRAIGHT OVERTIMES!
THREE STRAIGHT WIN OR GO HOME GAMES!
THIRD STRAIGHT WIN!
The Blackburn College Men's Basketball Team defeated Eureka College, 86-80 in the first semi-final of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday night at Greenville University. The back and forth contest, which saw no team lead by more than seven points with 21 lead changes was won by the poised Beavers and will now play for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Blackburn placed five players in double-figures, led by Duncan King with 20 points. Malcolm Scott added 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Freshman guard Bryson Kirby had a career-high 14 points while Karson Haves scored twelve and Reed Rusten ten.
The first half was back and forth until a Kirby three-pointer gave Blackburn an 18-11 lead at the 12:10 mark, it was the largest lead of the contest for either team. Eureka scored five straight and then it was back and forth again until Eureka grabbed their largest lead of the game with 2:33 left before the intermission at 35-31. Blackburn then out-scored the Red Devils 9-1 to end the half and take a 39-36 lead. The Beavers bench out-scored Eureka 17-7 in the first half.
In the second half, each team held a four-point lead in the first ten minutes before a Kirby three gave Blackburn a 71-66 lead with 2:49 left. Ten seconds later conference player of the year Shea Feehan hit a triple to cut the lead to 71-69. Feehan knocked down a free-throw but missed tying throw to make it 71-70. The Beavers then missed two front ends of the one and one bonus but their defense was strong and Malcolm Scott rebounded an errant shot with eight seconds to go and then knocked down both free throws to give Blackburn the lead at 73-70. With three seconds remaining, Ryan McElmurry hit a fade-away 25 foot three pointer to tie the game. Blackburn was unable to get off a game winning attempt to send the game into overtime.
Back to overtime for the Beavers. After Dakota Bennington gave Eureka a 75-74 lead the Beavers got back to back buckets by Scott and King to lead 80-75. Feehan then scored five straight to tie it at 80 each with 51 seconds to go. With 30 seconds to go Hayes nails a clutch three-pointer and then after a blocked shot by Scott and rebound by King, King hit a pair of free throws to give the Beavers the 85-80 lead with 19 seconds to go. Feehan missed a three with 13 seconds and Jordan Clay rebounded and knocked down a free throw to give the Beavers the third straight thrilling victory.
"I told our guys in the locker room afterwards, how mentally tough you have to be to win three games like this," said Blackburn Coach Steve Kollar. "Especially the last two games when opponents made unbelievable shots, it's just a testment to our kids to stay resillient and keep playing," added Kollar whose team will be playing in the tournament championship for first time since 2005.
The Blackburn team defense held the high-scoring Red Devils to just 80 points in 45 minutes and held Feehan to 27 points, three under his average. "Our team defense was incredible, with them having two of the best scorers in the league, we made it difficult on them every time down the floor," said Kollar. On possessions down the stretch, we literally had four different guys guarding him, talking and communicating," added Kollar.
"All year we've talked about it being a process, growing together, and we are a better team than we were a week ago, we are more together, and we are still getting better, our guys have total buy-in," said Kollar.
Blackburn is now 15-11 on the year and will play the host Greenville University Panthers on Saturday at 1:00 PM.
Senior Malcolm Scott who was named to the second team All-SLIAC after the game said, "The game was up and down but I'm really proud of my teammates for staying together, being resillient , we knew what was expected of us and everyone did it"