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After playing in the Round of 16 less than 24 hours before, the St. Catharine Patriots were ready for a chance at a Fab Four appearance against the MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers.
The Patriots came into Saturday night’s contest with MidAmerica Nazarene hoping to show no signs of fatigue after playing until nearly 2 am ET in their last game.
After getting out to a slow start offensively (shooting 3-for-13 from the field), the Patriots settled in to cut the lead to 26-23 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half following an Omar Skinner (New Castle, Del.) 10-footer.
However, the Pioneers would tear off a 6-2 run before SCC’s William Tolefree could answer with a jumper from the corner to cut the lead to 32-25.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Pioneers would outrebound them 34-18 in the first half, allowing the Pioneer offense to catch fire as they tore off a 12-6 run to take a 44-31 advantage to the break.
The Pioneers picked up where they left off in the beginning of the second half, stretching the lead to 62-45 before Raymon Austin (Cleveland, Ohio) would grab his own rebound for the putback with 10:18 remaining.
After a crucial defensive stop, Julito Hutchinson (Atlanta, Ga.) would find Omar Skinner for a trey to cut the lead to 62-50 with 10 remaining.
After trading blows for the next five minutes, the Patriots’ offense came to life when Tolefree found the bottom of the net to cut the lead to eight with just under five minutes remaining.
However, it would be as close as the Patriots would get as second-chance opportunities and missed free throws would finally get the best of them.
The Patriots would finish the contest shooting 16-for-39 from the charity stripe, while the Pioneers would sink 35-for-43.
On the boards, the Patriots would sputter, being outrebounded 54-41 despite the 10-rebound effort of Raymon Austin.
Offensively, the Patriots and the Pioneers would shoot similar numbers with the Patriots shooting 27-of-72 and the Pioneers going 24-of-65 from the floor. The Patriots were led by Tolefree with 16, Austin with 14 and Chris Johnson (Bowling Green) and Omar Skinner with 13 apiece.
“They were just the better team tonight,” head coach JT Burton said. “They just outhustled us, and we missed our shots.”
With the Patriots’ 86-73 loss they were eliminated from contention for the national title.
However, the Patriots finished as one of the final eight teams in the country in a tournament in which they were seeded 28th of 32.
“It’s been a great run,” Burton said. “Nobody thought that we would be here, and I am proud of our guys.”
The St. Catharine Patriots went to Kansas City with the goal of playing on Saturday, but playing at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning in the second round was not a part of that plan.
After turning it over 33 times in their first contest with SAGU, the Patriots came out firing on all cylinders against Hope International.
The Patriots forced five Royal turnovers in the first four minutes of the contest resulting in an early 9-0 advantage.
However, HIU would prove that they could score as well, trading blow for blow with the Patriots over the next 8 minutes until Taron Franklin found Julito Hutchinson for the up-and-under, creating a 21-13 advantage.
Over the next two minutes of the contest, the Patriot offense would sputter against a Royals defense that was leading the country in points allowed at 61.4, allowing the Royals to fight their way back into the game at 21-20 with 6:59 remaining in the first half.
Following a forced shot to avoid a shot clock violation, HIU took its first lead of the night at 22-21.
However, the Patriots would bounce back when Raymon Austin would fight his way to the basket to gain the bucket and the free throw, putting the Patriots up two with five minutes remaining.
Four minutes later, Omar Skinner would find William Bailey (Valley, Ala.) on an alley-oop fast break pass, propelling the Patriots to a 38-30 halftime advantage.
In the second half, the Patriots got started quickly when Raymon Austin found Omar Skinner underneath the basket to get the offense rolling.
SCC would blaze through the next five minutes to take a 51-39 advantage with 15 remaining.
The Patriots continued to build on their lead when William Tolefree found Julito Hutchinson under the basket to push the advantage to 55-44.
However, the Patriots would have to survive a late charge by their opponent when the Royals cut the lead to 61-56 with 9:39 remaining.
Bailey answered the call for SCC when he drilled a 10-footer to spark the offense once more.
On the next possession, Bailey would ring the bell once more when he got to the foul line and pushed the Patriot lead to 65-56 with just over 7 minutes remaining. But the Royals closed the gap once more, cutting their deficit to four with just over three remaining.
After a short trading of baskets, the Patriots’ lead was at three points with just under a minute to go, but Tolefree sank two free throws for the Patriots with five seconds left to send the “Cardiac Pats” to round three.