Courtesy Whitworth Athletics
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Two chances at a tying three-pointer in the final ten seconds did not fall and Whitworth University saw its 2010 men's basketball season come to an end in the NCAA Division III sectional semifinals with a 74-71 loss to Eastern Mennonite University at Guilford College's Regan-Brown Fieldhouse.
The fourth-ranked Pirates saw their school-record 25 game winning streak come to an end and finish 26-3, tying the 1996 team for most victories in a season. The 10-ranked Royals improved to 25-4 and advance to the sectional finals (round of eight) for the first time.
Bo Gregg (Sr., F, Lewiston, Idaho) led all players with 22 points, making 7 of 13 from three-point range.
The Pirates started well, minimizing the impact of EMU's full-court press. Gregg's three-pointer from the corner gave the Bucs a 17-12 lead and Eric Beal's (Sr., G, Spokane, Wash.) three-point play three minutes later lifted Whitworth to a 24-17 lead with 9:19 to go in the half. When David Riley (Jr., F, Palo Alto, Calif.) nailed a three with 4:14 to go in the period, the Pirates had opened a 34-24 lead, their largest of the game. But Todd Phillips, the Royals' leading scorer this season, tallied the next nine points for EMU, leading the Royals back to within 39-37 at halftime.
Gregg hit a pair of three-pointers out of the locker rooms to give Whitworth a 45-41 lead, but EMU went on a 7-0 run, capped by a long three from Eli Crawford, to take a 48-45 advantage. The Royals' pressure defense was starting to take effect as the Pirates shot only 26% after halftime and committed nine second-half turnovers, most on entry passes into Nate Montgomery (Sr., P, Sammamish, Wash.). But Gregg hit his sixth three of the game to pull Whitworth to within 62-61 with just under four minutes to play.
EMU then outscored the Pirates 9-2 over the next three minutes and when D.J. Hinson nailed a three from the top of the key for a 71-63 Royal lead with 1:09 to play, it appeared he had secured the win. But the Royals struggled to cinch the game at the free throw line and the Pirates clawed back in the final minute. Gregg hit his final three of the game to pull the Bucs within five and Riley's fade away jumper closed the score to 72-68. Another missed free throw allowed Clay Gebbers (Jr., G, Brewster, Wash.) to convert a three-point play and get Whitworth within 72-71 with 30 seconds to go. Whitworth had a chance on its next possession to take a lead, but committed a turnover with 15 seconds left. George Johnson then made the two biggest free throws of the night for the final margin. Gregg and Montgomery both had three-point shots in the final seconds of the game.
Gregg added eight rebounds to his scoring total. Montgomery had a double-double with his 16 points and 14 rebounds. Riley scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half. Beal finished with 10 points and five assists. The Pirates made only 35% of their shots from the floor and 26% of their three-pointers.
Phillips led EMU with 17 points, Hinson had 16 and Crawford totaled 15 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson scored 14 points. The Royals made 43% of their shots from the field and 43% from three-point range. Many of their threes came from beyond 25 feet.
Montgomery, Beal, Gregg and Mike Odland (Sr., F, Seattle, Wash.) played in their final game as Pirate players.
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