ByJohn Gatto, Assistant Sports Communications Director at Union College
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score)- St. Thomas guard Kevin Hincapie nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer, lifting the No. 11 Bobcats past Union (Ky.), 75-72, in the first round of the 2014 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship on Thursday evening at Keeter Gymnasium.
With the win, St. Thomas (25-7) moves onto the second round, where they will play the winner of William Penn (Iowa) and Dordt (Iowa) Friday night at 9:15 p.m. CST. With the loss, Union ends their season with a 28-5 overall mark.
In the first half, things remained tight between both teams throughout, with Union taking their biggest lead of the night with 8:52 left at six points (23-17) after guard Michael Bueter made a three.
St. Thomas was able to claw back, tying the game for the 10th time in the period with 2:22 to go. After taking a slim lead, Union was able to get the lead back, and led by a slim 37-36 margin at halftime.
It was more of the same in the second half for both teams, with the lead swinging back and forth throughout. With 8:18 to go, Union opened a five point lead at 64-59, only to see St. Thomas go on a 5-0 run over the next couple of minutes to tie the game again at 64-64 with 6:33 left.
With 3:40 left. St. Thomas’ Demonte’ Simpson made a big jumper in the lane, giving the Bobcats a 69-66 lead. Union, however, fought back, taking the lead back on a deep DeAntray Stevens three with 2:04 left at 70-69.
St. Thomas was able to punch back, as Floyd Battle drained a fall away three with 1:13 to go, giving the Bobcats a 72-70 edge. On Union’s next trip down, the Bulldogs answered, as Gerard Newby tipped in a shot to tie the game back up at 72-72 with 1:09 left.
The next two possessions for both teams came up empty, as St. Thomas turned it over with 41 seconds left, and Union did the same with 16 seconds left, setting the stage for Hinkapie’s heroics.
On the final possession of the game, St. Thomas’ Floyd Battle appeared to be in trouble at the top of the lane as time ticked away. However, Battle was able to find Hincapie, who picked the right time to make his first three of the night, sending the Bobcats to the second round in the process.
Overall, Battle and Davorn Bryan led St. Thomas in the victory, scoring 15 points apiece off the bench. Stevens led the Bulldogs in the loss, pacing five double-digit scorers with 20 points.