Arkansas Tech tops Benedict 61-58
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- No. 4 seed Arkansas Tech led the ball game just twice in the second half, but when the final buzzer sounded, they'd come away with a 61-58 victory against Benedict in the final quarterfinal of the 2011 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball South Regional Championship.
The Wonder Boys snatched victory from the Tigers when James Giles stole the ball and fed Johnie Davis. Davis made his shot and was fouled. Down 58-57, Davis drained the free throw to bring the game even with :43 left. He then addressed the media after the game, saying, "I had to draw contact and make sure I made the bucket."
Benedict took their time in their next offensive set, trying to burn precious time off of the clock. Pressure from Arkansas Tech forced a turnover by Anton Green with 13 left on the shot clock. "We had a good game plan going in," Benedict coach Fred Watson said. "We didn’t close the game well."
Davis then found an open Laithe Massey, who squared up and drilled a three-pointer with three seconds left in regulation. "Johnie made a great pass right in my chest," Massey said. "I knew time was winding down and I just let it go, luckily it went in."
Wonder Boys coach Doug Karleskint was quite happy with his team's performance. "It was a great basketball game between two really good teams. I am proud of my team for hanging in there and fighting back with big shots when we needed them the most. We needed to stay positive, keep shooting and attacking. Luckily, the last one fell."
Benedict rode Xavier Collier (16 pts, 2 rebs, 3 asts) and Marcus Goode (8 pts, 20 rebs, 8 blks) to the precipice of victory. Collier played all 40 minutes and addressed the media after the game. "We just could not execute when it came down to the end. We feed off the big man in the beginning. It sets the tone for the other players for the rest of the game."
Jeremy Dunbar and James Causey paced the Wonder Boys as each scored 15 points, but it was Davis and Massey who had the late-game heroics. Karleskint had his team already thinking forward to Sunday. "I told them that we were going to see Huntsville again in the NCAA tournament. Tomorrow is going to be a great game and game environment."
Arkansas Tech will face top seed Alabama-Huntsville, the regional's host, in the second semifinal of the evening. Tipoff is scheduled for no earlier than 7:30 p.m.