Bulldogs use 3's to Pull Past Men's Basketball in SCAC Tournament

Crusaders nip large deficit, but sharp 3-point shooting too much in tournament quarterfinals.
Crusaders nip large deficit, but sharp 3-point shooting too much in tournament quarterfinals.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The University of Dallas men's basketball team was able to nip a 17-point deficit with eight minutes left in regulation, but Texas Lutheran University was too sharp from three-point range in Friday's 91-76 victory in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Quarterfinals.

The No. 3 seed Dallas trailed 39-30 at intermission and allowed the No. 6 seed Texas Lutheran to push out to its largest advantage all game five minutes into the next stanza, but a 23-6 run for the Crusaders knotted things at 55. The Bulldogs were 14-of-30 in three-point shooting overall, which included six of the last eight past that tied juncture. This surge included five made 3's in a row to allow the three-time tournament champions to advance.

The Crusaders finish the season 15-11 overall, which is their highest number of wins since matching the program-best 18 during the 2014-15 year. The record marks, which were also notched in the 2000-01 and 2002-03 seasons, are the only other times the team has reached at least 15 wins.

TLU keeps its repeat chances alive with its fourth victory in a row to improve to 12-14.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Spencer Levi (St. Louis, Mo.) scored UD's first six points to open a 6-3 lead early. His first pair of baskets gave the higher seed a 4-0 edge. The Bulldogs answered with eight straight points to climb up to an 11-6 margin through five minutes.

The teams traded a pair of points, and then a trey by Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) sparked a 9-0 run to lift the Crusaders up by four (17-13). Ben Norton (Louisville, Ky.) was responsible for the last four points in that surge.

TLU countered right back with Matt Perry draining a three-pointer that he was fouled on. Perry hit the extra free throw to deadlock the game again. There were only three ties and three lead changes the entire contest. The Bulldogs never trailed again as Alex Cage buried two more trifectas to finish a 10-0 scoring swing.

Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) drilled a needed three to slash the six-point deficit in half, but the Bulldogs scored two more layups. Another Nunn trey made it 27-23 with 6:17 in the first, but Jacob Kouremetis dropped a field goal from deep for another response.

Dallas had gotten in the bonus eight and a half minutes into the contest, and were 9-for-10 at the free throw stripe in the frame. Three of those came in a row with under five to play to narrow the gap back to four (30-26) a final time. The Bulldogs stretched the lead back to as many as 10, and held a nine-point edge thanks to Jackson Willoughby converting on the old fashioned three-point play at the line with four ticks on the clock.

A pair of treys in the early part of the next 20-minute stretch lifted TLU to a 49-32 lead. UD worked the margin down with the next nine points. Sebastian Andrade stopped the scoreless streak for his team with a three-point play. Then the Crusaders rattled in eight straight to slash the deficit to three (52-49) halfway through.

Texas Lutheran posted another three – this time by Kourmetis – to double the lead, but six points in a row capped on a wide open dunk by Darrius Colvin (Waco, Texas) knotted things 55-55. The junior pushed out with the long rebound towards midcourt and beat the TLU defenders back for the emphatic slam.

Unfortunately the Bulldogs hot stroke from downtown returned the next play, as Perry nailed a three that he was fouled on. The four-point exchange turned to six. Dallas earned the next three free throws to make it a 61-58 score with 5:44 remaining.

A quartet of 3's in less than two minutes marked the turning point of the second quarterfinal game. Andrade sank the first two, then Perry and Cage each swished one to propel the Bulldogs up by double figures. Kouremetis earned an assist on each of the three-point field goals, and then scored the last triple of his own to finish TLU's amazing shooting from three-point distance.   

STATISTICAL NOTABLES

Levi posted a game-high 19 points, while Colvin followed with 18. Nunn and Wambsganss each were 2-of-5 with the team's lone made three-pointers. The duo was perfect at the charity stripe by combining for 11 points. Overall they scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Levi, Colvin, and John Russell (Bossier City, La.) formed a trio of players with eight rebounds for a team-high. Norton added eight points and five boards off the bench. Wambsganss also secured five rebounds.

Dallas was outshot 42.9 percent to 39.1 percent in the game. However, 10 three-pointers proved to be the difference, as the Bulldogs posted a 46.7 percentage compared to UD's 22.2-clip (4-18). UD shot 22-for-26 in free throws, while Texas Lutheran converted on 92 percent (23-25) shooting. Dallas led in points in the paint (42-20), second chance points (20-10), and fastbreak points (12-2). The Crusaders held a slight edge on the glass 41-38, and reduced their total turnovers from eight to two between the halves.

The Bulldogs placed five players in double figures for scoring led by Kouremetis with 18. Cage contributed 17 off the bench, while Andrade (16), Perry (13), and Willoughby (10) all formed the unit. The top four listed made at least a trio of trifectas.

TIP-INS

- Colvin dished seven assists to give him a career-high 97 in a season. He finished with seven or more just three times on the year, and two came within the final three contests.

- Levi finished his debut season with 495 points, 70.2 field goal percent shooting, 295 rebounds, and 71 blocks (single-season record).

- UD eclipsed 20 successful free throw in nine games overall. This included four of the final five games played.