March 25, 2009

Quarterfinal Highlights: Central Missouri vs. Gannon 

Courtesy Central Missouri Athletics

SPRINGFIELD, Mass - After being held to 10 points during the initial seven-plus minutes of the second half, Central Missouri scored 44 points during the final 13 minutes to rally from a 12 point deficit and in the process hand Gannon University an 86-77 setback in a national quarterfinal game tonight at the MassMutual Center.

The Mules shot 66.7 percent (16-for-24) from the floor, including 70.0 percent (7-for-10) from the arc and 93.8 percent from the line (15-for-16), in the second half to advance against one of the lone two remaining undefeated teams in NCAA Division II. Central Missouri (30-4) will now meet either second-ranked C.W. Post (30-0) or top-ranked Findlay (33-0) in a national semifinal game tomorrow. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 pm.

"We started playing more aggressively and took it to the hoop more in the second half," said Central Missouri head coach Kim Anderson. "Our team has demonstrated a lot of resiliency this season. We did not panic and just got better towards the end."

Junior forward Sanijay Watts went 9-for-13 from the field to pace five Central Missouri players in double-figures scoring with 21 points and six rebounds. Senior guard De'Andre Byrd tossed in 20 points, while senior guard Joe Young and junior forward Tremaine Luellen had 13 apiece, with all of Young's 13 coming after halftime. Junior guard Alex Moosmann rounded out the balanced attack with 12 points.

For Gannon, senior guard Joe Lindsey scored 18 points and handed out six assists, and senior forward Kyle Goldcamp had 15 points thanks to a 7-for-11 shooting effort from the floor. Senior guard Cory Knight wound up with 14 points and four assists, while senior forward Tyler Stoczynski contributed 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Luellen, Byrd, Young and Moosmann each drained a 3-pointer within a three minute span midway through the second half that trimmed the Central Missouri deficit from 12, 54-42, to five, 58-54, with 9:53 remaining. It was a still a seven point deficit, 64-57, three minutes later when Luellen canned another trey and Watts converted a three-point play to make it a one point affair, 64-63, with 6:41 showing on the overhead scoreboard.

Moosmann finally brought the Mules even, 68-68, with 5:05 left when he knocked down a jumper in the paint. After Gannon tied it once more, Watts finished inside and Central Missouri never looked back with a 72-70 lead in hand at the 3:00 mark. The Mules then proceeded to go 10-for-10 from the foul line during the final 1:21 to put the finishing touches on their tenth consecutive victory.

In the first half, both teams generated leads that fluctuated between one and five points throughout the opening 18 minutes. However, Gannon closed out the final 4:23 with a 9-2 jaunt that turned a 30-29 deficit into a 38-32 lead at the break.