How Sweet it Is - Trojans Reach Round of 16March 13, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Another balanced offensive attack lifted the No. 7 seed Anderson men’s basketball team to an 82-76 win past sixth-seeded Montevallo in semifinal round action of the 2011 NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament, hosted by top-seeded Augusta State Sunday afternoon at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
Anderson (20-11) is relishing its’ Cinderella role and has won six of its last seven contests while earning its’ first-ever trip to the NCAA’s Sweet 16. The Trojans also avenged an early-season setback to Montevallo, whose season ended at 19-11.
The Trojans move on to the regional finals to be played Tuesday at 7 p.m., and will face the winner of the top-seeded Augusta State/fourth-seeded Queens contest to be played later Sunday evening.
“I am just extremely proud of this team,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “They played hard and I’m happy to be coaching them for at least one more practice and one more game.”
Both teams opened a little cold from the field, with AU connecting on one-of-four to open the game, while the Falcons were 2-of-6 to start.
In a first half that featured six ties and eight lead changes in the first 12 minutes, neither team was able to build more than a six-point lead, but Montevallo heated up from long range, scorching the net by connecting on 7-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first 15 minutes as Anderson was forced to remain in its’ zone defense with three players in early foul trouble.
The Falcons opened a 32-27 lead with 3:48 left in the first half, but AU’s Oskars Ernsteins caught fire from long range, as the 6-foot-4 sharpshooting guard came off the bench to knock down four consecutive 3-pointers from every part of the court.
Ernsteins’ third trey, with 1:59 left in the first half, gave the Trojans a brief 36-34 lead, their first since the 12:56 mark. But Montevallo countered Ernsteins’ fourth 3 with three baskets and held a 40-39 advantage at intermission.
Anderson opened the second half by misfiring on its first five attempts from the field, allowing Montevallo to score 10 unanswered points and push out to its largest lead of the game, at 50-39, with 17:53 on the clock. But AU withstood the onslaught and battled back to climb within 52-50 on Brandon Young’s jumper in the paint three minutes later.
Montevallo junior Tyrell Coleman answered with 1-of-2 from the line and junior Ryan Westbrooks knocked down his sixth trey, giving the Falcons a six-point lead with 12:17 remaining.
But the Trojans refused to go away, as Brandon Young scored four points of an 8-0 AU outburst. Young later drove the lane then found teammate Nick Trull open on the left wing, and the 6-foot-2 guard connected on his second 3-pointer of the afternoon to give Anderson a 58-56 advantage with 8:50 left.
Following another Young basket, Cornwell connected on a pair of free throws to boost AU to a 62-59 lead, its’ largest of the second half to that point. But Montevallo again rallied to gain a brief 66-62 edge and with the Trojans trailing 67-64, guard Denzail Jones’ acrobatic basket and ensuing free throw score knotted the score at 67 apiece, the eighth tie of the contest.
Anderson senior guard Kevis Cornwell capped the Trojans’ 14-3 run, giving AU a 76-69 lead with 1:29 left.
The Trojans connected on six-of-eight free throws inside the final 46 seconds to seasl the win.
Montevallo out-rebounded the Trojans, 38-32, but AU committed just six turnovers while converting 11 Falcons’ miscues into 15 points.
Montevallo’s Westbrooks led all scorers with 21 points, while Antoine Davis added 19.
Young finished with a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Ernsteins netted 15 and Cornwell tallied 12. Senior Trey Britton posted 10 points while being hampered with early foul trouble.