March 7, 2012 Contact: Scott Jamison 352.395.5616 firstname.lastname@example.org
SF MEN’S BASKETBALL
CONWAY TIP-IN GIVES SAINTS FCSAA STATE TOURNAMENT VICTORY OVER ST. PETE, 57-56
Marianna, FL – Trailing St. Petersburg College by one with four seconds remaining, sophomore forward Matt Conway came up with some late game heroics, tipping in a Kevin Harden miss to give Santa Fe College a 57-56 lead. A blocked shot as time expired sealed the victory and the first win at the FCSAA Tournament for SF since the 2000-2001 season.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” said SF coach Chris Mowry. “They really hung in there and played hard for 40 minutes. They deserve this win.”
Harden paced the FCSAA #4/NJCAA #10 Saints (26-4) throughout the first half, scoring 14 points of his 20 points in the first 20 minutes. A Harden three pointer put SF ahead 31-27 with two minutes to play and two plays later Junior McLeod banked in a layup to give Santa Fe their largest lead of the game, 35-27.
St. Pete answered with a shot at the buzzer to cut the margin to 35-29 at the half time break.
“I thought we did a good job defending and rebounding in the first half,” said Mowry. “Paul [Stone] hit some big threes and Kevin really did a nice job knocking down shots and getting to the basket.”
The second half started off with a bang as Matt Conway nailed a three to put SF up 38-30. SPC bounced right back with six straight points to cut the lead to two.
The two teams traded buckets until Paul Stone hit a three from the corner to stop the titans rally and put SF ahead 45-40. A free throw by James Williams and a jumper by Kevin Harden expanded the lead even further to 48-40.
With just over two minutes to play AJ Roberts made a layup and was fouled to make the score 55-47. He missed the free throw and St. Pete took over from there, scoring nine straight points to go ahead 56-55. The SPC rally was helped thanks in part to four straight Santa Fe missed free throws, including two front end of one and ones.
“We were a little timid down the stretch and allowed them to get too many good looks,” said Mowry. “We also didn’t do ourselves any favors with the way we shot free throws. We kept them in the game and gave them too many chances to get back in it.”
Trailing by one with 11 seconds to go, Kevin Harden drove to the basket and put up a layup that rimmed out. Matt Conway was positioned perfectly and tipped the ball in with his right hand to put Santa Fe back on top 57-56 with four seconds left.
“We decided not to call timeout there because we didn’t want to let them get set up,” Mowry said. “Sometimes the other team expects a timeout and relaxes just a little bit. Kevin took advantage of that and did a nice job getting to the hoop even though he didn’t make the shot. Matt did exactly what he was supposed to by getting position and did a great job tipping it in.”
St. Pete took the ball the length of the court and got a shot off before the buzzer sounded, but James Williams forced St. Pete guard Kenny Bellinger to adjust in mid-air and miss the shot.
Santa Fe overcame their worst free throw shooting performance of the season, capitalizing on only 36% (7-for-19) of their chances and only 2-for-11 in the second half.
“We have to be more effective from the line on Friday,” said Mowry. “We got away with one today, but you can’t do that again and expect to win in a tournament with the caliber of teams like this one.”
Kevin Harden led the way with 20 points, McLeod scored 13 and Paul Stone chipped in 11 including three big three pointers.
The Saints play again on Friday, March 9 at 1:00 PM CST (2:00 PM EST) in the semi-finals against the winner of the Northwest Florida State and Indian River State game.
The FCSAA State Tournament runs from March 7-10 and takes place at Chipola College in Marianna, FL. The winner of the eight team tournament advances on to play at the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.