COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Gents basketball team saw their season end the past three years at the hands of the Bulldogs: they were determined to would not happen for a fourth time.
The Maroon and White used a 40-30 edge on the boards and a 32-22 advantage in points in the paint as Centenary (15-10) held on for a 76-70 win against Texas Lutheran (12-15) Saturday afternoon, February 24, in the semifinals of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
Centenary held an 11-point lead at the break, but Texas Lutheran made seven of its 11 three pointers in the second half to keep it close. However, after cutting the lead to 44-40, the Gents warmed up themselves from the outside. Extending the lead to nine, triples from seniors Travion Kirkendoll and Dylan Weaver, with one from sophomore Cedric Harris, helped put the Gents take a 62-48 with 7:21 left - matching its largest lead of the game.
Later up 69-59, Texas Lutheran's Jacob Kouremetis and Sebastian Andrade hit back-to back threes. Jackson Willoughby added a layup to bring the Bulldogs within a bucket. However, Texas Lutheran climbed no closer the rest of the way. Kirkendoll answered with a jumper with 1:01 left on the clock to push the lead back to four.
Texas Lutheran pulled within 72-70 with 30 seconds left, but Kirkendoll hit both from the line to make it a two-possession game. After a Bulldog missed three, Harris out-muscled Texas Lutheran for the board and alertly threw the ball off the defender. On the ensuing inbounds, junior Treylan Matthews alertly threw the ball down the court to classmate Kaharri Carter in the key. Wrapped up before the layup attempt, Texas Lutheran was dinged for its second intentional foul of the game. Carter sank both free throws and the Gents ran out the clock to end the Bulldogs season.
Kirkendoll used 11-for-19 shooting, including a 9-for-12 mark from inside the arc, to score a game-high 28 points. Harris tallied his third double-double of the season and first since December with 12 points and 12 boards. Carter scored 14, while Matthews added 13.
Up 25-23 with 5:05 remaining in the first half, Centenary scored 12 unanswered and held Texas Lutheran scoreless for five minutes. A foul on a three-point attempt for Harris netted a pair of free throws. Matthews then picked the Bulldogs pocket and fed Carter for the fastbreak layup. Matthews made his own jumper before junior Mitchell Tarantolo came up with a steal and fed Carter for an emphatic dunk. Carter made a layup and two free throws by Matthews after an intentional foul put the Gents up 14. However, Willoughby hit a three to beat the first-half buzzer for Texas Lutheran to cut the Gents lead to 37-26 at the half.
While Texas Lutheran made up some ground with 11 threes compared to Centenary's six, the Gents shot 47.4 percent (27-for-57) from the field compared to 39 percent (23-for-59) for the Bulldogs. Kouremetis led Texas Lutheran with 18 points, while Alex Cage came off the bench for 15.
The Gents evened their Tournament record to 5-5 - including 5-0 against lower-seeded teams. It will also be the third time in five seasons Centenary will play in the Finals of the SCAC Tournament.
Centenary returns to action for the SCAC Tournament Championship game against Schreiner at 1 p.m. CST (Noon MST). The Gents and Mountaineers only meeting in the Tournament came in the semifinals in 2014; a Centenary 74-66 win.