Top-seeded Drury uses late surge to blow past eighth-seeded Findlay 89-77
Top-seeded Drury broke it open late and went on to claim an 89-77 victory against eighth-seed Findlay in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional before 2,051 fans Saturday evening at the O'Reilly Family Event Center.
Senior point guard Brandon Lockhart led five Panthers in double-figures with 21 points - including 14 in the first half - as Drury improved to 26-4 overall with its 18th consecutive victory.
Findlay finished 22-8, but not without giving the Panthers a tremendous battle.
The turning point came at the midway mark of the second half, when Drury - leading just 59-57 - gradually pushed the lead to seven (68-61) during the next two and a half minutes on six points from Ian Carter and a 3-pointer by Lonnie Boga.
Findlay got it back down to four (70-66) with 6:30 left, but Drury answered with a 9-0 run to build a 78-66 lead with just under four minutes remaining. Six consecutive points by Teddy Simniok and a 3-pointer from freshman Kameron Bundy did the final damage to send the Panthers on to the victory.
"I thought both teams were getting after it, and I thought both teams had some trouble getting stops," Drury coach Steve Hesser said. "We were scoring and they were coming right back at us. I thought we got some plays and made some stops late when we needed to and were able to convert."
Alex Hall had 17 hard-earned points against three-time All-GLIAC defender Aaron Robinson. Carter finished with 15 points, Simniok had 14 points and Cameron Adams had 12 points, a team-high seven rebounds and a pair of huge momentum plays - a second-half dunk off an in-bounds pass and a blocked shot at the other end - to pace the Panthers.
Greg Kahlig had 20 points and Brad Piehl added 16 points for Findlay, which made 11 3-pointers, including seven in the first half in forging a 39-all tie at the break with the Panthers.
Drury finished with a 67-percent shooting effort (31 of 46), including 73 percent in the second half (16 of 22) as Simniok and Carter combined to hit 8 of 10 shots and score 20 points after halftime.
"One of the comments I made to our team afterward is that sometimes you can get so caught up in chasing Alex Hall all around the gym that they do a very good job of decoying him to find others open inside," Findlay coach Charlie Ernst said. "And [Drury] did that well [on Friday]."
Findlay made 26 of 57 shots for the game (46 percent), but just 12 of 32 (38 percent) after halftime.
Lockhart had six rebounds, six assists and three steals to go with his 21 points, which came on 8 of 11 shooting.