Men’s College Basketball: South Suburban falls to Fort Scott in NJCAA Division II national opener
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media March 19, 2014 4:04PM
Updated: April 21, 2014 6:56PM
Entering the NJCAA Division II National Tournament as the No. 4 seed and drawing a Fort Scott (Kan.) squad that came into the tournament with a 14-16 record, South Suburban seemed poised for a deep run in the winners bracket.
Instead, the Bulldogs’ national title hopes quickly were dashed with one poor performance Wednesday as Fort Scott earned a stunning 77-59 win in the first-round game in Danville.
“We just never got going at all,” South Suburban coach John Pigatti said. “We weren’t in a flow offensively or defensively.
“We got down early and we didn’t do what other teams in this tournament do and fight back. We felt sorry for ourselves and this is what happens. You get blasted.”
Antonio Levy (Thornton) continued his hot streak with 28 points, but South Suburban (28-6) struggled to find scoring elsewhere. Jalen Brown added 10 points and 11 rebounds and Korbin McClain had seven points and rebounds.
The Bulldogs, who will meet Lake Michigan College (Mich.) in a consolation game at 1 p.m. Thursday, were done in by Fort Scott’s Prince Samuels (31 points) and Kevin House (24).
“They have terrific players, and we didn’t follow our scouting report at all,” Pigatti said. “We got beat by two players.”
South Suburban’s last lead was 12-11 midway through the first half. Fort Scott put together a 12-6 surge to go ahead 23-18 and held a 36-29 halftime advantage.
Down 40-30, the Bulldogs got to within 40-36 with 16:40 to go after back-to-back three-pointers by Levy and Brown, but got no closer.
Fort Scott outscored South Suburban 18-5 over the next seven minutes to pull away.
Fort Scott went 33-of-50 from the free-throw line, with the Bulldogs finishing 11-of-14.
“We got some cheap fouls reaching in,” Pigatti said. “They lived at the line.”
Seventh is now the highest possible finish for South Suburban, which finished third in 2012 and sixth last year.
“We put on the worst performance of any team in the first round,” Pigatti said. “We’ve got to regroup and come out ready to play (Thursday).”