Men’s College Basketball: St. Xavier bows to Midland (Neb.) in NAIA second round
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media March 14, 2014 3:50PM
Updated: April 17, 2014 6:31AM
Down 16 points with less than 12 minutes left Friday morning, St. Xavier made a valiant attempt at extending its season, pulling to within one point three times in the final 2:05.
It wasn’t enough, as the seventh-seeded Cougars couldn’t quite get over the hump, falling to No. 10 seed Midland (Neb.) 64-61 in a NAIA Division II National Tournament second-round game in Point Lookout, Mo.
“The things we’ve been doing well all year, we didn’t do well in the first half,” St. Xavier coach Tom O’Malley said. “It’s tough, because we were right there at the end, but we missed some free throws, we didn’t shoot the ball well. It just wasn’t our day.”
It’s the second straight year the Cougars (30-5) bowed out in the second round.
In the final game of a brilliant college career, Brad Karp — St. Xavier’s all-time scoring leader — finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Jack Krieger led the Cougars with 18 points.
St. Xavier held Midland (28-5) to one field goal over the final 10 minutes and started chipping away.
The deficit was cut to 56-54 when Krieger buried a three-pointer with 4:32 to go. It was down to 57-56 after Karp scored off a steal with 2:02 left.
Galen Gullie (12 points), who scored Midland’s final 10 points, answered with a three, but Krieger came right back with a three-point play to make it 60-59 with 1:15 to go.
After forcing a turnover, the Cougars had three shots to take the lead on the ensuing possession but came up empty.
Gullie hit two free throws with 8.5 seconds left and Midland intentionally fouled Michael Simpson with 5.3 to go. The teams exchanged two free throws apiece and Simpson’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer fell short.
“You have to give those guys credit,” O’Malley said with a nod toward Midland. “Every time we got close, they came back at us. They made free throws down the stretch. It’s just tough to see guys who played so well all year have their season end like this without really getting a chance to show what they could do.”
The key surge for Midland came over the final five minutes of the first half. St. Xavier led 21-19 before Midland went on a 14-0 run. The Cougars found themselves down 37-23 at halftime.
Perhaps thrown off by the 8:30 a.m. start, St. Xavier shot just 6-of-24 from the field in the first half and finished 18-of-52.
The deficit was 54-38 before Krieger and Josh Mawhorr (10 points, 8 rebounds) hit back-to-back treys to start the rally that fell painfully short.
“I just hope the younger guys can learn something from this and come back strong next year,” O’Malley said.