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Bulldogs' valiant comeback falls short

UMW News Bureau

The University of Montana Western men’s basketball season came to an end on Saturday, March 16 at the hands of sixth-ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) out of Waxahachie, Texas.

The SAGU Lions eliminated the Bulldogs 84-79 in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. This season marked Montana Western’s fourth straight trip (11th overall) to the national tournament and concluded with the best finish in school history.

The first half was brutal for the Bulldogs as they shot just 15 percent (4-27) from the field and eight percent (1-12) on three-pointers en route to 12 points. The Lions’ 15 offensive rebounds helped them to a 34-18 advantage on the glass. SAGU went up by as much as 24 and took a 34-12 lead into the half.

As they have done all season, the Bulldogs never gave up. Montana Western opened the second half with five unanswered points and outscored their first half total within the first five minutes. With just under 10 minutes to play, the Bulldogs made their move with a 19-4 run that saw them trail by only five points.

The Lions responded with nine straight points and increased their lead to 79-53 with 2:04 remaining. Montana Western cut the deficit back down to 10 with a minute to go. A flurry of offensive activity ensued as the Lions scored eight and the Bulldogs had 11. Kris Collins made his seventh three-pointer with six seconds left to pull the Bulldogs within four. The Lions were immediately fouled and one of the two shots would be enough to hang on to their 84-79 quarterfinal victory.

Montana Western shot much better in the second half and outscored SAGU 67-50. The Bulldogs were 51 percent (22-43) from the field, 55 percent (12-22) on threes and 85 percent (11-13) from the foul line.

Kris Collins led the Bulldogs with four assists and 21 points, all from his seven of 10 three-point shooting in the second half. Lone senior Vince Turk made the most of his last outing, putting up a career-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and two steals. Jordan Overstreet had 17 points while Jake Owsley had eight rebounds and Kris Castro had three blocks.

For the game, the Lions shot 42 percent (31-74) from the floor, 27 percent (8-30) behind the arc and 70 percent (14-20) from the charity stripe. Nathaniel Ward led SAGU with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Dominique Rambo followed with 18 points, four assists and three steals.

Montana Western (24-10) will return all but Vince Turk next season. Tyler Miller, recently named a Daktronics-NAIA DI Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete will join fellow juniors Maazin Butler, Kris Collins, Grant Fink, Jake Owsley and Gabe Rucker on next season’s squad.

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Kris Castro, Austin Mailey and Jordan Overstreet and freshmen Zach Smith and Connor Woodill.

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