Cincinnati State brings Greyhound run to end
DANVILLE, Ind. -- Top-seeded Cincinnati State brought Fort Scott Community College's run at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament to an end here Friday afternoon, pulling away in the second half for an 82-55 victory.
The Surge (29-4) will play for fifth place this afternoon against Wayne County, Mich. Fort Scott's season ended with a record of 15-18 and the need to order a Region VI championship banner to hang in Arnold Arena next season.
And just being here should give the Greyhound program an opportunity to grow and perhaps begin to make regular appearances in Danville.
"I think it's a big step forward," Fort Scott Head Coach Michael Cook said. "We got our name out there nationally. It's a good recruiting tool. I think it means a lot for the progress we made from last year to this year. I think we just have to keep doing it. It's planted the seeds and it makes you want more. So I think for us, it's a recruiting tool and a good opportunity to show what we can do."
Though Cincinnati State never trailed in the game, they couldn't pull too far away in the first half. The Surge held leads of 6-1 and 11-6 but the Greyhounds found ways to stay in the thick of things.
Dalton Rose brought the 'Hounds within 13-10 when he took a pass from Prince Samuels and sank a 3-pointer with 14:26 on the clock. Later, another Rose triple capped a bit of a run as Fort Scott came back from 8 points down to get within 26-25 with 5:50 to go.
James Kilpatrick stuck back a teammate's missed shot for Cincy State. Samuels drove through the paint for a dunk to bring Fort Scott within one again with 3:46 left.
Determining that his man-to-man defense wasn't doing the job against Samuels and Kevin House, Surge Head Coach Andre Tate switched schemes.
"I was really worried about those two because they're both explosive and both have had great tournaments," Tate said. "We tried to guard them man-to-man early on and (House) was too quick. We decided to go to the 1-3-1 and we really slowed them down with that."
Fort Scott didn't score again the rest of the half. Cincinnati State got four free throws and a half-ending layup by Winston Grays to go into the break ahead 34-27.
Though Fort Scott committed 16 turnovers in the first half, Cook felt that his team could straighten things out in the second half. But the Surge's 1-3-1 defense continued to cause problems.
"In the second half, we just couldn't make shots and they stayed in the 1-3-1, trapping," Cook said. "And then we lost Kevin; his ankle tweaked again and we had to sit him down. We lost our true point guard, we couldn't penetrate the gaps, so that kind of killed us a little bit."
The 'Hounds managed to stay within 10 at 48-38 after Dontae Johnson scored with 11:18 to go. But a third consecutive day of all-out play combined with Cincinnati's zone finally took their toll. The Surge scored 12 of the next 13, making it 60-39 on Trent Donald's stickback with 8:46 to go.
"I think our legs were gone," Cook said. "We didn't practice (Friday) for that reason. We just got treatment for our legs and some ice packs."
Tate agreed, saying, "We just wore them down. They were playing their third game in three days. Guys who were knocking down shots the first couple of games were coming up short today."
Another 11-0 run later in the second half extended Cincinnati State's lead to 75-46 with 4:40 to go.
The Surge, the nation's second-highest scoring team coming into the tournament (99.2 points per game) were led by Gray's 23 points as he made 10 of 20 shots from the field. McKinley Bell added 15 points while Donald and Chrisean Marsden each scored 10.
Samuels and Rose each scored 12 points for Fort Scott while House finished with 11. Will Harrington grabbed 10 rebounds.
Fort Scott shot 38 percent from the field in the game, making 19 of 50 field-goal attempts while hitting on 6 of 23 three-point tries and 11 of 21 free-throw attempts. Cincy State shot 47 percent on 31 of 66 -- going 19 of 35 in the second half -- and made 6 of 24 from three and 14 of 22 at the charity stripe.
Cincinnati State, the second-best rebounding team in the nation (47.3 rpg), outboarded Fort Scott, 42-35. The Surge also forced 28 turnovers, nine more than in the Greyhounds' previous-worst game for miscues back in November against Butler.
"That's what we do," Tate said. "In the first two games, we weren't able to pressure like we really want to do. I wish the 1-3-1 would have worked a little bit better (Thursday) against (Central Nebraska)."
This was Fort Scott's first appearance in a national tournament since 1948, which was just the second season the NJCAA held an officially-sanctoned event. The Greyhounds' all-time record in NJCAA tourney games is 5-3. They were the only unseeded team to win a first-round game this year.