RICHARDSON, Texas — Junior Josh Sanchez scored 34 points and dished out two assists as Concordia (Texas) defeated Mary Hardin-Baylor 80-76 to capture its first American Southwest Conference tournament championship on Sunday at the UTD Activity Center. With the victory, the Tornados earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The teams played a one-possession game with four ties and seven lead changes for nearly 10 minutes. After Darien Harris converted a free throw, Dwayne Patterson got hot by sinking a layup and draining a 3-pointer to give the Tornados a 28-20 advantage with 9:49 on the clock. Sanchez then made a pair of free throws a little over a minute later to give the Tornados a double-digit lead. Mary Hardin-Baylor came within six on two occasions, but Concordia held off each run the Crusaders attempted to make and held a 42-32 advantage at the recess.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (23-5) challenged the Tornados early in the second half and sliced the deficit to as little as five when Kitrick Bell finished a pass from James Allen that made it 44-39 at the 18:35 mark. Concordia, however, held its ground and never surrendered their lead in the second half. Sanchez made a trifecta to put his team back ahead by double figures before Henry Riasco extended the lead up to 15 at 62-47 by burying a shot from downtown.
After Brett DeMetrotion made a free throw to give Concordia a 16-point lead, its largest of the ballgame, Mary Hardin-Baylor attempted to make a furious rally. Bell brought the margin down to single digits before a Thomas Orr dunk suddenly made it a 69-63 score with 6:08 left. Allen then made it a one-possession game at 78-76 by draining a trey with 28 seconds remaining, but Terry Corprew hit two free throws on the other end to put the game on ice and allow the Tornados to escape with the win.
Concordia’s Sanchez, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, scored his game-high 34 points by shooting 10-for-19 from the floor, including 4-for-11 from beyond the arc, and 10-for-14 at the line. Patterson, who fouled out with 7:36 left, recorded 11 points and four boards and joined Sanchez as well as Nick Haynes on the all-tournament squad. DeMetrotion finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Allen paced Mary Hardin-Baylor by racking up 21 points and and six assists. Both marks were team highs. Orr posted 20 points and five rebounds, while Brian Todd had 14 points and seven boards. Allen and Orr were also named to the all-tournament team for their efforts over the entire weekend.
•2013 Conference Championship Central