COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Leading by 10 points with just under three minutes remaining, Centenary College had to withstand a late Texas Lutheran rally to advance to Sunday's title game of the 2018 SCAC Men's Basketball Championship. Official Tournament Website
Saturday's victory was sweet revenge for Centenary as TLU had knocked the Gents out of SCAC tournament play each of the last three seasons.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Centenary shot a blistering 53.6 percent (15-28) from the floor in the first half to take a 37-26 lead.
- With the game tied at 21 with 6:32 remaining in the first half, Centenary closed on a 16-5 run to take a 37-26 lead into the locker room.
- In the second, Centenary opened leads of 14 at the 19:01 mark, again at 8:26 and finally at 7:21 - only to watch the Bulldogs come back each time to make a game of it.
- A layup by Jackson Willoughby with 1:26 remaining cut the Centenary lead to 2 (69-67) but the Gents' Travion Kirkendoll hit a huge pull-up jumper with 1:01 remaining to make it a two-possession game.
- Texas Lutheran dominated in bench points, outscoring Centenary 26-5.
- Centenary held a 32-22 edge in points in the paint.
- Travion Kirkendoll: 28 points, 5 rebounds
- Cedric Harris: 12 points, 12 rebounds
- Kaharri Carter: 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
- Jacob Kouremetis: 18 points, 3 rebounds
- Alex Cage: 15 points, 6 rebounds
- Jackson Willoughby: 8 points, 6 rebounds
- The team that scored first has lost every game in the 2018 tournament so far on the men's side. Colorado College held a 7-0 lead over Trinity; Dallas held a 4-0 lead over Texas Lutheran; Trinity held a 2-0 lead over Schreiner and Texas Lutheran jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Centenary.
- Centenary had been 0-3 against Texas Lutheran in SCAC tournament games prior to Saturday's win.
- Sunday will be Centenary's third title game appearance since joining the SCAC prior to the 2012-13 season.
- Texas Lutheran was attempting to become the first No. 6 seed to make the tournament final since the league went to its current format in 2015.
- The tournament loss for TLU was its first since 2014. The Bulldogs had won eight straight en route to three straight SCAC titles (2015-16-17) plus this year's quarterfinal victory.
- Texas Lutheran ends its season with a 12-15 record.
Centenary (15-10) advances to take on Schreiner (14-12) tomorrow at Noon p.m. MT. The winner will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This is the fifth time in the last six years that the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds have met in the tournament final. In the only previous meeting between the two programs in SCAC tournament play, Centenary earned a 74-66 victory in the 2014 semifinal round.