Contact: C. Scott Shasteen
March 22, 2017
Motlow State freshman Kevonte Corley hit a free throw with 24.5 seconds remaining and Georgia Highlands' final shot attempt from half court clanked off the back of the rim, sealing the Bucks' 70-69 win over the Chargers in the second round of the NJCAA Men's National Basketball Tournament Wednesday night in Hutchinson, Kan.
The Bucks (30-5) now advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Motlow, the No. 14 seed and the lowest seed remaining in the tournament, will face No. 6 Eastern Florida State at 8 p.m. central Thursday night, with the winner advancing to the final four. The game can be seen live at www.njcaatv.com.
Motlow was forced to overcome a 14-point deficit in the final eight minutes after leading the Chargers by 16 in the first half. Both teams spent every ounce of energy making their respective runs, but in the end it was the Bucks who summoned the extra effort to make the plays to win the game.
The Bucks jumped out to a 7-0 lead early when Isaiah Hart hit a three-pointer with 17:51 left in the first half. Motlow built its biggest lead of 16 points with 2:50 to play in the first half after hitting seven consecutive free throws, five by Dillon Smith and two by Corley.
The Chargers then applied a stifling pressure defense, forcing multiple Motlow turnovers and climbing back to within six points, 40-34, at intermission. The two teams combined for 55 total turnovers in the game.
After the Bucks scored two quick baskets to open the second half, one by Aleksandar Zecevic and one by Javion Hamlet, the Chargers went on a 19-0 run, holding the Bucks scoreless for almost five minutes, and led 64-50 with 7:54 left in the game. It appeared the Bucks' tournament run was over.
However, Motlow put seven quick points on the board as Hart hit a three-pointer and Rashawn Fredericks hit a three and sank a free throw, cutting the Chargers' lead to 64-57 with 6:05 to play. Zecevic hit two free throws and Hamlet hit a three-pointer and a two-point bucket, and the Bucks cut the lead to one, 65-64, with 3:11 remaining.
Hamlet, who led Motlow with 20 points, then hit Zecevic with a rifle pass into the paint and the big man slammed it in to give the Bucks a 66-65 lead with 2:25 left to play. Although Motlow missed eight free throws in the final two minutes, Hamlet hit two with 1:03 to play and Corley made his one count at the end.
Hamlet was high scorer for Motlow with 20 points, while Fredericks scored 14 before fouling out with 4:54 remaining. Each had four assists with Fredericks adding three steals. Zecevic scored 11 and pulled down nine rebounds, along with three blocked shots and two steals.
Hart had 10 points, including two big three-pointers, and added a pair of steals. Corley scored six and pulled down 10 rebounds and Smith had six, all at the free-throw line, along with two steals. Damarcus Williams added three points and pulled down four rebounds.