HORNETS COMPLETE ROAD TRIFECTA, WIN AMC CHAMPIONSHIP IN FULTON
Men's Basketball - Tue, Mar. 7, 2017
FULTON, Mo. – The William Woods University Owls welcomed the Harris-Stowe State University Hornets to Anderson Arena on Tuesday night for the title game of the 2017 American Midwest Conference Men's Basketball Championship. With little more than 100 miles separating the two schools, the energy in the building was palpable, as both the Owls and Hornets were well represented among those in attendance.
Harris-Stowe (19-12) used a fast start to the second half, coupled with an attacking style that kept William Woods (22-11) off balance for much of the night, to pick up the win 80-56 and punch their ticket to the NAIA National Championship.
The Owls scored on their first possession when DaShaun Stark connected on a right wing 3-pointer, but for the next several minutes, both teams went cold. Neither team scored again until Stark buried another triple at the 15:30 mark of the first half, pushing the Owls' lead to 6-0. Jalen Fletcher scored just over a minute later, but the offense continued to be sluggish on both sides and just more than six minutes into the game, the Owls took a timeout to try and break the malaise.
Coming out of the timeout, the flow began to improve for both teams, and as the pace began to increase, so did the decibel levels in the building. The Hornets began to rally, and with 10:46 to play in the opening half, Julian Clarkson buried a long range shot to give Harris-Stowe the 14-13 lead. The game took on a back-and-forth tone through the middle stages of the first half, as the teams traded the lead six times in the half, and in the dying seconds of the period, Craig Davila, Jr. hit a floater in the lane to send the game to intermission knotted at 28.
Harris-Stowe claimed the lead back in the opening minute of the second half on a pair of Malik Wineglass free throws, and moments later, Wineglass gave the Hornets their largest lead of the game with a two-handed dunk, but he was whistled for a technical foul for slapping the backboard on the play, and the Owls' Trey Mitchell made both technical free throws to cut the margin back to two points.
The momentum swing was short-lived, however, as Trevor Roberts buried a right corner 3-pointer to put the Hornets up 35-30 with 18:07 to play. Roberts hit another triple on the Hornets' next possession, and with just 2:27 gone in the second half, the Hornets led by eight. A timeout by the Owls did little to quell the momentum, and a layup from Davila with 16:12 to play opened the margin to 10 points.
Mitchell made the Owls' first field goal of the second half with 13:42 remaining, snapping a 12-0 Harris-Stowe run. The Hornets were whistled for a second technical foul following a dunk from Jalen Fletcher, and again Mitchell went to the line and made a pair of free throws to give William Woods an opportunity to take the momentum back. Fletcher, however, made a pair of clutch 3-pointers to keep the tide from turning, and the Hornets' lead swelled to 16 with 7:55 to play, and it eventually reached as many as 26, and the Hornets pulled away to the win, 80-56.
Davila and Fletcher led the way for the Hornets, scoring 16 points apiece, while Wineglass added a dozen, and Trevor Roberts chipped in 11. Fletcher added seven rebounds, and he made 7-of-9 shots in the game.
Deon Pettigrew of William Woods led all scorers in the contest with 20, Stark added 17, and Mitchell chipped in 15.
The win punched the ticket of the Hornets to the 80th Annual Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, which will take place at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. beginning on March 15.