Ala.-Huntsville wins OT thriller
Chargers top Arkansas Tech 74-71 to advance to Regional final
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Called by head coach Lennie Acuff one of the greatest wins in the history of Spragins Hall, top-seeded Alabama-Huntsville (28-4) dug deep and outlasted a resilient Arkansas Tech (25-6) squad behind a thrilling 74-71 win in the semifinals of the NCAA South Region tournament on Sunday night in Huntsville.
With the win, the Chargers advance to the Round of 16 for the first time in school history and will take on No. 7 seed Stillman on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. CT for the chance to advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight hosted in Springfield, Mass., March 23-26.
"Arkansas Tech is a great team; they guarded us all night," noted Acuff. "I have never seen a team hang in there like we did tonight.”
UAH got a huge spark in the final two periods from sophomore guard Jaime Smith, who dropped 20 points on the Wonder Boys after a three-point, first-half performance.
With neither squad holding a lead larger than eight points all night, the game entered the final minute of regulation tied at 60. Spragins Hall then erupted with 45 seconds remaining as sophomore guard Xavier Baldwin hit one of his signature jumpers from the top of the key.
"It got really loud with that crowd," noted sophomore forward Zane Campbell. "It gives me chill bumps every time they erupt. They help us never give up.”
The Wonder Boys fired right back though when Johnie Davis got free for a layup with 25 seconds remaining. With the entire gym on their feet, the Chargers held for the last possesion but junior guard Josh Magette was wrestled to the ground and failed to get a shot off from his knees before the buzzer sounded.
The overtime period saw the Green and Gold jump out to a four-point advantage with 1:24 remainging of the extra five-minute stanza when ATU's James Causey drained his fourth three pointer of the night giving Tech a 69-65 lead. Baldwin then again caused the Charger faithful to erupt as the guard made back-to-back layups to tie the game at 69-69. Baldwin then stepped to the line and drained the extra free throw to put UAH out in front.
“Xavier is the hype man for the team, he made a big time finish for us." quipped Magette.
A missed layup by Davis and fastbreak outlet by the Chargers proved to be the key difference in the contest as Causey grabbed Smith and was whistled for his fifth foul of the evening. Following the whistle, Causey was issued a costly technical as well sending Smith to the line for a quartet of shots from the charity stripe.
Making 3-of-4 free throws, Smith pushed the UAH lead to a four-point margin before Magette gave UAH a five-point cushion with a free throw with six seconds remaining. Arkansas Tech then scored an uncontested layup with one second remaining to make it a 74-71 final.
“After that technical I thought we had the game wrapped up" remarked Smith. “Like everyone on the team I cannot wait until Tuesday night. "
The Chargers were able to overcome a 45-31 defecit in rebounding outshooting the Wonder Boys 46% to 41%. Along with Smith's 23 points, UAH got a spectacular performance from Magette, who was a rebound shy of a triple-double, notching 11 points, 14 rebounds and nine boards. The Chargers also got 17 points from Campbell and 11 from Baldwin in the victory.
Tuesday night's South Region final will be the first for both Stillman and UAH. Remaining general admission tickets will go on sale on Monday at Noon at the ticket office in Spragins Hall and by calling 256-824-6584.