LSUS knocks out Dillard in GCAC tournament 89-78.
March 11, 2004
The LSUS Pilots (21-11) entered the 2004 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament as a 4 seed after being ranked 10th in the pre-season polls by the conference. Thursday night had the Pilots matched up against the 5th seeded Dillard University Blue Devils (22-10). The season series between the two teams saw each team dominate the other with home court advantage. The Pilots fell to Dillard 88-73 early in January but drew even with the Blue Devils at home on February 19th with a 90-83 win.
Coming into tonight's game, Dillards Ivory Clark was recently named as the freshman of the year as he led the GCAC with 9.96 rebounds per game as well as led the conference in double-doubles. LSUS Pilot Fredericko Payne was named newcomer of the year as a transfer from Northwestern State and was also placed on the GCAC All-Conference Team. Payne led the GCAC in scoring averaging 21.8 points per game which placed him 8th in the NAIA scoring race. LSUS finished the season winning 11 of their last 12 games which included the 90-83 win over Dillard.
Dillard won the tip-off in the first half and saw Eric Mercier dunk the first two points of the game after receiving a pass from teammate Evan Cleave. With 6 minutes remaining the score was 23-22 in favor of Dillard when they went on a 9-0 run which was capped off by a 10 foot jumper by Mercier with 3:45 left in the half. LSUS then went on a run of their own as they fought back to within 1 point when Justin Collins drained a three as time expired in the first half to make the half time score 35-34 in favor of the Blue Devils.
Eric Mercier was the leading scorer for Dillard with 10 points followed by teammate Jaamal Jones who finished with 8. Dillard was 14-35 from the floor, 2-11 from the three-point line, and 5-7 from the free throw line in the first. The biggest surprise was how Dillard managed to keep Fredericko Payne scoreless in the first half for the first time this year. Payne was 0-4 from the field, 0-2 from the three point line. Junior guard Justin Collins was the leading scorer for the Pilots with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. Derrick Rogers was one point shy of a double-double in the half as he finished with 9 points and collected 13 rebounds; 10 defensive. The Pilots finished the half 12-37 from the field, 3-12 from the three point line, and 7-10 from the free throw line.
In the first half the game saw 7 lead changes and 2 ties while Dillard collected 16 points off the bench to LSUS' 9. LSUS had the edge in points in the paint with 16 versus Dillard's 14. The Pilots also had the edge in second chance points with 11 while Dillard collected 8.
In the second half Payne made his first basket of the game at the 13:25 mark and then connected on a three point attempt while being fouled a minute later. Payne connected on his free throw attempt to square the game at 49-49. The two teams continued to trade baskets and found themselves tied at 55 with 10:16 remaining.
LSUS then went on a 13 point run and led 68-55 with 6:31 remaining. Dillard continued to fight back as they pulled within 8 with 2:42 mark. With 2:38 left LSUS fouled Evan Cleaver who went to the line and connected on two free throws to pull the Blue Devils to within 6.
Derrick Sowell was fouled on a drive to the basket and was sent to the line for his 10th and 11th free throws of the game. Sowell connected on his first to give him 18 points on the game but failed to make his second. The Pilots rebounded Dillard's ensuing possession and once again found Sowell at the line for two more free throw attempts. Sowell connected on both attempts to build the Pilots lead to 77-69.
With 1:02 remaining Dillard called a time out after a score which made the score 78-72. Freddy Hughes was fouled in front of the scorers table and went to the line with :57 remaining. Hughes was 89% from the line on the year and connected on both to put the Pilots up 80-72. The Pilots won a jump ball and were fouled on the inbounds play which sent Travis Cash to the line where he made one of two to put the Pilots up 81-72.
Dillard tried to push the ball up court to make a final run which resulted in three Pilot steals and lay-ups to make the final score 89-78. Pilots Derrick Sowell finished with a game high 21 points. Junior guard Derrick Rogers finished with 15 points and a season high 16 rebounds. Justin Collins poured in 15 points and Fredericko Payne pitched in with 15 points after being held scoreless in the first half.
Ivory Clark was 8-12 from the field and had 18 points to lead the Blue Devils scoring. Teammate Eric Mercier finished with 14 points. Dillard finished the game shooting 46.3% from the field and only 21.1% from behind the three point line. The Blue Devils finished 12-20 from the free throw line.
LSUS was 18-35 from the field in the second half and finished the game shooting 41.7%. The Pilots were 7-21 from behind the three point line in the game and connected on 22 of 31 free throws.
The Pilots are now 21-11 on the year and will face the winner of the Southern University of New Orleans versus Tougaloo University tomorrow night at 8:00pm in a semi-final match-up. A win tomorrow night would send LSUS to the GCAC conference tournament championship game versus the winner of Spring Hill College versus University of Mobile who play tomorrow night at 6:00pm. The Pilots who have won 13 out of the last 14 games and defeated four top 25 teams this year have a good chance for an at large birth to the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City, MO.
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