By Aaron Sagraves, Sports Information Director at Davenport
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score)- Trailing 75-70 with 1:48 to play, Indiana University Southeast scored the final seven points including a pair of free-throws from Aishon White to lift the No. 3 Grenadiers to a 77-75 victory over Tabor (Kan.). The No. 3 ranked team in the country avoided being the second top-5 team to go down in as many days as they now advance to Friday’s second round to meet Robert Morris (Ill.) at 5:45 p.m.
“I told the guys to have confidence in themselves and not be afraid to do anything, said head coach Wiley Brown. “We have worked so hard in practice on our free-throws and I knew it would pay off and today it showed. I am very proud of our team because they continued to believe in themselves, even when down five late.”
In a back and forth opening half that saw each team grab a small lead it was a late run by the Grenadiers including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave them a 43-36 lead at the break. Tabor, led by a very balanced offensive attack, held their largest lead of four with 7:40 to play in the half, but IU Southeast outscored the Blue Jays by 11 the rest of the way including Kevin Mitchell’s trey to close it out.
IU Southeast then scored the opening bucket of the second half and it looked as if the No. 3 overall seed might pull away but Tabor, the KCAC tournament champions, continued to battle and had the lead down to just three (55-52) after a layup from Lance Carter.
Tabor’s second half comeback continued and after a 3-pointer from DeWayne Biggs with 7:39 to play, the score was knotted up at 64-64. The Blue Jays took their first lead since the 6:16 mark of the first half when Carter connected on another layup to put TC on top 68-66.
After a bucket by IU Southeast tied it at 68 and free throw to put the Grenadiers on top, Tabor got a big three-pointer from Biggs to go up 71-69 and they increased it to as many as five, leading 75-70 with 1:48 to play. That is when the Grenadier heroics started as they scored the final seven points including two free-throws from Aishon White with 16 seconds remaining and then withstood two final gasps from the Blue Jays to post the win.
“We work on free-throws in practice every day and coach preaches that the hard work will pay off and today it did,” said White, who had 12 points off the bench including nailing 6-8 foul shots. “Coach just told us not to give up and we stayed together down the stretch and came away with a win.”
IU Southeast was very balanced on offense as five different players finished in double-figures led by Greg Magee with 18. The Grenadiers, now 26-4 on the season, shot just 40.0% from the floor but converted 24-35 foul shots to pick up the win.
The Blue Jays, led by 19 points from Lance Carter, finish their season with an overall record of 20-13.