Griffin's free throw with two seconds sinks Pirates' season in 66-65 AMC men's basketball semifinal loss at Columbia
Game Statistics: http://www.dakstats.com/Websync/Pages/GameBook/GameBook.aspx?seasonID=NAIMBB_2013&sg=MBB&compID=173844
(COLUMBIA, Mo.) Devin Griffin made the back end of two free throws for No. 4 Columbia College with 2.3 seconds left, ending Park University's men's basketball season with a 66-65 Cougar victory in the AMC tournament semifinals at the Southwell Complex in Columbia.
Columbia (30-2) led for nearly all of the game and by double digits for most of the second half, and Park didn't lead until 5:42 when Denzell Cook made the second of two free throws to put the Pirates in front 56-55. With 5:00 to play, Park led 59-57 on Marcus Johnson's three after two Columbia free throws.
Cook finished the game with 17 points to lead Park, followed by Xavielle Brown's 15, and the two combined for 13 rebounds while Marcus Johnson scored 13 on 4-of-4 from outside the 3-point arc. Patric Massey led all scorers with 20 points and all rebounders with nine, and Griffin added double-digits with 16 points. Jeremy Nolen was the Cougars' third double-digit scorer with 12 points, and the Cougars outrebounded Park 41-27.
"It was a heck of a fight to get back in it, but we made two big mistakes at the end and they're a good team. They'll take advantage when you let them," said Park coach Jason Kline. "I'm proud of this team to finish 17-12. I know the loss stings for the guys, especially the seniors, but the way we ended this season was something to be proud of after the way it started."
The Pirates continued with a two-point lead at the 3:00 mark, and with 2:58, Cook sank both free throws on a two-shot foul, putting Park in front 63-59. A stop with 2:40 left gave the ball back to the Pirates, but Columbia forced a missed shot in the lane near the 2:00 mark before a Patric Massey free throw made it 63-60. Columbia stopped Park again with the clock approaching 1:30, and with 1:27 to go, Massey went back to the line for two shots, making one to cut the Pirates' lead to 63-61.
John Kotsanos' pass was poked away in the lane with a minute to play, and Griffin had a lay-in before a foul to tie it at 63 with 58 seconds to play. Brown went to the line for two shots on the foul and sank both, returning the lead to Park, 65-63.
A foul with 47 seconds to play put Griffin at the line for two makes, knotting the game at 65 before a shot-clock violation gave the ball back to Columbia with 12.1 seconds, setting up Griffin's game-winning trip to the line.
Park had two looks at the basket from five feet away on its opening possession in the first half, but the second shot wedged between the rim and the backboard. The teams traded one-point leads to the 16:21 mark when Massey scored in transition on an over-the-top pass, putting Columbia up 9-6 to force a Park timeout.
Columbia's lead went to four, 14-10, but a basket by Cook in transition and two free throws from John Kotsanos with 11:00 left in the half tied the game at 14. Columbia answered with an 8-0 run and led 22-14 with 8:40 in the half on Malik Ray's three.
Cook's three near the 7:00 mark had Park back within three points, 22-19, but Massey's dunk moved Columbia's lead back to nine points after the 4:00 mark, giving the Cougars a 28-19 lead. Brown helped Park answer in transition at the 3:00 mark, scoring in the middle of the lane to make it 28-23, but with 1:16 before the break, another Massey dunk had Columbia in front 34-24, part of a 7-0 run to end the half that had Columbia in front 35-23 at intermission.
Jeremy Nolen's three near 18:30 in the second half helped Columbia open the second half on a 7-0 run, extending the Cougars' lead to 42-24. Park had the lead back to 10 on Cook's triple with 16:30 to go, but Cook was whistled for a technical foul that put Columbia back in front 43-32. The lead was back to single digits with 16:10 to go when Nigel Van Oostrum scored in the lane, and with 15:22 left, Brown hit a free throw to make it eight points, 43-35.
The lead returned to double digits when Massey had a third dunk with 14:15 to play, but with 10:05 left, Brown made two at the line to get back within nine, 51-42. Park scored on its next two possessions, including a three by Marcus Johnson after 9:00 to make it 51-47, and with 8:24 left, Johnson hit the back end of two foul shots to cut Columbia's lead to three, 51-48.
Massey stopped the run at the 8:00 mark, cleaning up Nolen's miss in the lane, but Johnson hit again at the 7:20 mark, keeping it a one-possession game, 55-52. Park stopped Columbia on its next possession as the clock slipped past 7:00, and with 6:30 left, Johnson struck from the corner, tripling to tie the game, 55-55.
Columbia will host No. 8 Freed-Hardeman University Tuesday (March 11) for the AMC tournament championship at 7 p.m. Both teams have qualified automatically for the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship tournament.