Sunday, March 8, 2015


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Deonte Johnson sank two free throws with four seconds left to lift the Benedict College men's basketball team to a 63-61 victory over Lane College in the championship game of the 2015 SIAC Tournament.

Benedict, 19-11, advances to the NCAA Division II Tournament as the automatic qualifier from the SIAC. The Tigers will learn their opponent during Sunday night's national selection show on at 10:30 p.m.

In a tight contest down the stretch, Lane's Donald Stewart tied the game at 61 on two free throws with 27 seconds left. The Tigers brought the ball down the court and ran time off the clock before sending Johnson on a drive down the lane to try and score inside or draw the foul. The shot didn't go down, but Johnson went to the line for the game-winning free throws.
 Deonte Johnson sinks the game-winning free throws.Johnson also had a big bucket with 54 seconds left, grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring to give the Tigers a 60-58 lead. That was the last field goal of the contest as Lane was 3-for-5 from the line in the final minute and Benedict was 3-for-4.

Andrew Crawford led the Tigers with 19 points, hitting six 3-pointers. Roberto Mantovani, who twisted his ankle early in the contest but continued to play, had 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Brennan Reynard, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, had eight points and a game-high nine assists. Jordan Smith was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Head coach Fred Watson was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Coach after winning his fifth conference championship, and third in the last four years, as head coach of the Tigers.

Donald Stewart led Lane (16-12) with 17 points, while Terrance Bridgeman added 13 points.

Despite shooting just 28.5 percent in the first half, Benedict led 26-20, thanks in part to their effort to attack the basket and sank 8-of-10 free throws, while Lane did not attempt a free throw in the first half.

In the second half, Benedict built a 39-28 lead after a layup by Mantovani with 16:07 left to play. But the Dragons used a 13-0 run to take a 45-42 lead with 10:34 left to play. The final 10 minutes was a tight back-and-forth affair. Allen Elmore ended more than a three-minute scoring draught by draining a 3-pointer to give the lead back to Benedict, 50-48, with 5:54 left. Lane pulled ahead 52-50, but the Tigers got a 3-pointer by Crawford for a 53-52 lead with 4:14 on the clock.

After Lane scored to take a 54-53 lead, Elmore hit another big 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 56-54 lead with 3:32 left to play. Benedict connected on 8-of-12 3-point attempts in the second half.

The game was tied again at 56 and 58 before Johnson scored his layup to give the Tigers a two-point lead with 54 seconds left. Lane tied it again, setting the stage for Johnson's drive to the basket and two free throws for the win.

"It was a favorable matchup for us. I was just about to call a timeout until I saw the matchup," Benedict coach Fred Watson said. "I knew there was no way that guy could stay in front of him. If I called a timeout, we couldn't get anything better. I was fully confident he would get the foul, or the basket. The only thing I was concerned about was that he didn't go too early. He went with enough time to get the foul, and he's a great free-throw shooter, so I didn't mind putting the ball in his hands."

Source: BC Sports Information

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