HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 11, 2017) – Six players scored in double-figures to lead Rollins in an 89-85 overtime win against Valdosta State in the first round of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament.
The seven-seed Tars will face three-seed Delta State in the South Region semifinals on Sunday, March 12 at 6 p.m. (ET) in Huntsville, Alabama.
Damian Young led Valdosta State (26-6) with 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Gulf South Conference Player of the Year Jeremiah Hill added 19 points and nine rebounds. Josh Lemons and Saadiq Muhammad both netted 10.
Rollins led by as many as 17 late in the first half before the Blazers caught fire early in the second half to get back into the game. VSU scored the first five points of the overtime period, but the Tars went 7-of-10 from the stripe in the extra frame to seal the win.
The victory was the Tars ninth-straight and advances them the South Region semifinal for the first time since 2010. Valdosta State was the regular season champion of the Gulf South Conference while Rollins entered NCAA play as the winner of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HALF-BY-HALF ANALYSIS First Half l Rollins raced out to a 16-5 lead over the first six minutes, punctuated by a Galvis steal and transition three-pointer. After VSU closed to within seven at the 8:47 mark, the Tars began to work the ball inside and went on a 10-0 run to lead 34-17 with 4:46 left in the half. Rollins held a 40-24 advantage with 40 seconds left but the Blazers hit four-straight at the free throw line as the Tars took a 40-28 lead into halftime.
Second Half l Young started to heat up from outside and brought Valdosta State back into the game, hitting a layup with 9:45 to play and put the Blazers on top 53-52. The Tars wouldn’t let VSU to get away and retook a five-point lead at the 5:46 mark. With 1:06 on the clock, Young had another putback and tied the score at 75. The Tars ground down the clock and Bedulskis drew a foul, getting both at the line to get Rollins back on top. Rollins got a defensive stop, but Merton was off the mark on a pair from the line. With just four seconds left, Young was fouled on a dunk attempt and nearly got it to go. He then sank two at the line to tie the score. Rollins mishandled the inbound and gave Beau Justice a look at a game-winner, but it went long and the game headed to overtime.
Overtime | A Justice three-pointer and Young dunk quickly put the Tars down by five early in the second frame. Free throws from Merton and Galvis started an 8-0 run by the Tars as a Merton triple gave Rollins an 85-82 advantage with 1:44 left. Hill answered with a three-pointer of his own, but that would be the last score for the Blazers on the night. Castaneda got a free throw and, after a Galvis steal, Connor Mckim extended the lead with a driving layup in the final seconds. Castaneda stole the ball on the ensuing possession and sealed the game at the free throw line.
GAME NOTES • Rollins improves to 6-7 all-time against Valdosta State and 2-1 in postseason play. • Rollins advances to the sixth time in school history and first since 2010. • Rollins is now 3-1 all-time as the No. 7 seed in the South Region Tournament and 12-15 all-time in NCAA postseason play. • Rollins nine-game winning streak is its longest since going 9-0 to start last season. • Sam Philpott has hit at least one field goal in each of the last 40 games. Jeff Merton now as 1,237 career points, just one behind Tars assistant coach Brad Ash for 24th on the Tars all-time list. Joey Galvis is now 12th on the Tars all-time steals list with 133. • Tom Klusman is now 675-392 in 37 years as the Tars head coach.
NEXT UP FOR THE TARS Rollins will next meet Delta State in the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament Semifinals. The University of Alabama at Huntsville is hosting the event. Fans can listen to all the action live on the Geico Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com and locally on 91.5 FM WPRK.