Posted: Thursday, 07 March 2013 5:48PM

Drury men win 15th straight advancing to GLVC semifinals



EVANSVILLE, In. -- Top-seeded Drury fought off a furious Indianapolis rally in the closing minutes to come away with a 77-72 victory over the eighth-seeded Greyhounds in the quarterfinals of the Deaconess Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship Tournament Thursday at the Ford Center.

The Panthers' 15th consecutive triumph - tying the 2003-04 DU squad for most since Drury moved to the NCAA-II level in 1994-95 - sets up a Saturday semifinals showdown with fifth-seeded Bellarmine, which defeated fourth-seed Maryville 58-53 in Thursday's opener.

And it's a matchup that very likely could determine who gets to host the NCAA-II Midwest Regional in another week, since the Panthers are No. 1 and the Knights No. 2 in this week's rankings. That the two have not squared off this season could make Saturday's contest a winner-take-all situation, with "head to head" a selection criteria.

Drury, ranked eighth nationally in this week's NABC Top 25 Coaches Poll, improved to 23-4 overall and avenged its most recent loss by defeating the Greyhounds (20-8), who downed the Panthers 72-69 in Indianapolis on January 10.

But the Panthers had to hold on down the stretch, and get a key bucket from Brandon Lockhart, to preserve the win.

Drury bolted to a 14-3 lead in the game's first 4:49, and went on to lead 43-30 at the half despite getting only nine minutes from foul-plagued senior scoring leader Alex Hall, who sat most of it with two personals.

The Panthers pushed that advantage as high as 19 points (61-42) with 12:41 to go on a Hall 3-pointer before the Greyhounds began their charge, keyed by 3-pointers and multiple offensive rebounds that led to more UIndy opportunities.

Indianapolis chipped away, getting it down to eight (72-64) with three minutes left, and continuing to slice it to just one (72-71) on a 3-pointer by Reece Cheatham with 52 seconds to go.

Then came DU's play of the game, as the Panthers worked the shot clock down to the final seconds, and Lockhart penetrated the lane for a layup with 21 seconds left that pushed it back to three (74-71). The Greyhounds missed a 3-point try by Cheatham that hit the shot clock above the goal, and DU turned that possession into a Hall free throw with 10 seconds left for a 75-71 cushion.

The Greyhounds - sixth in the region rankings coming in - managed only a Tyrae Robinson free throw, countered by two from Hall in the final second, to reach the final five-point margin.

"We get to play Saturday, and that's something we came here for," Drury coach Steve Hesser said. "The first half I thought we got off to a good start, got some inside buckets and some stops at the other end. We had the lead at halftime, and we talked about winning the first few minutes of the second half, and we did that ... but Indy obviously has a lot of pride, they turned it up, got after it and got us on our heels a little bit and had some success.

"We couldn't get them stopped, struggled to get some defensive rebounds and to get some flow offensively ... got away from what we did in the first half. But give our guys credit ... they did get knocked on their heels, but they stepped up and made some plays when we needed them. Lockhart made the big layup and we finally got a couple stops at the other end."

Hall led four Panthers in double-figures with 20 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range to push his career totals to 1,997 points (fourth on the DU charts) and 355 treys (school record).

Simniok finished with 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while Ian Carter had 13 points and six rebounds and Lockhart finished with 10 points, seven assists and five steals while playing all 40 minutes.

Robinson finished with 24 points and Cheatham had 17 for the Greyhounds, who had 19 turnovers and finished with 38-percent shooting (21 of 56) from the field. 
The Panthers made 51 percent for the game (23 of 45) to overcome a 39-29 rebounding deficit and 18 turnovers.

Filed Under :  
Topics : DruryMen's Basketball
People : Alex HallBrandon LockhartIan CarterSteve Hesser
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