HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 12, 2017) – Rollins used a barrage of first half three-pointers to build a big lead and cruise to the finish as the Tars beat Delta State 88-61 in the NCAA Division II South Region Semifinal.
The seven-seed Tars will face top-seed Alabama-Huntsville in the NCAA Division II South Region Championship game on Tuesday, March 14 at 8 p.m. ET at UAH.
Sam Philpott and Jeff Merton both scored 22 points to lead the Rollins (23-10) offense. Philpott was 6-of-10 from the field, including 5-of-6 beyond the arc. Merton hit four from three-point range to go along with four assists and two steals. Eric Castaneda tallied 14 points and 10 rebounds.
As a team, the Tars went 12-of-18 from three-point range in the first half and ended the night 17-of-30.
Josh Cornish had the hot hand for Delta State (23-9), scoring 17 points. Devin Schmidt, the leading scorer in Gulf South Conference history, was held to 13 points and seven rebounds. Ravion Henry added 12 points.
The Tars led 46-32 at halftime and extended the advantage to as many as 30 late in the game. Rollins had a season-low six turnovers on the night.
Rollins has won 10 in a row and will play for the South Region title for the third time in school history. The Tars won the region in 2004 and lost to Valdosta State in the 2010 title game. STANDOUT PERFORMERS • Sam Philpott (RC) 22 pts, 6-10 FG, 5-6 3FG • Jeff Merton (RC) 22 pts, 4-8 3FG, 4 assists • John Cornish (DSU) 17 pts. • Eric Castaneda (RC) 14 pts, 10 rbs. • Devin Schmidt (DSU) 13 pts, 7 rbs.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HALF-BY-HALF ANALYSIS First Half l The Tars led 8-2 in what was a slow offensive start for both teams over the first four minutes. Delta State cut the lead to 8-7 before Rollins scored three-pointers on its next 10 buckets to go up 38-25 at the 4:20 mark. Merton later gave the Tars a 42-25 lead in the final minutes and Castaneda drilled a three-pointer with 33 seconds left to send Rollins into halftime leading 46-32. Rollins went 12-of-18 from deep in the first half.
Second Half l In the second, the Tars moved its game inside and started to wear down the Statesmen defense as a Merton drive and dunk at the 11:45 mark gave the Tars a 60-41 lead. Delta State would get no closer than 14 the rest of the way as Rollins outscored DSU 19-11 over the final five minutes.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE • Field Goal Shooting: Rollins 28-59 (48 percent) DSU 22-56 (39 percent) • 3-point Field Goal Shooting: Rollins 17-30 (57 percent) DSU 10-32 (32 percent) • Free-throws: Rollins 15-21 (71 percent) DSU 7-12 (58 percent) • Rebounding: Rollins 38, DSU 32 • Turnovers: Rollins 6, DSU 12 • Rollins led for all but the first 2:06 of the game when it was tied. • Rollins bench outscored Delta State 48-16.
GAME NOTES • Rollins is 2-0 all-time against Delta State. • Rollins advances to the South Region Championship for the third time in school history. • Rollins is now 4-1 all-time as the No. 7 seed in the South Region Tournament and 13-15 all-time in NCAA postseason play. • Rollins 10-game winning streak is its longest since winning 12-straight in the 2010-11 season. • Sam Philpott has hit at least one field goal in each of the last 41 games. Jeff Merton now as 1,259 career points, passing Tars assistant coach Brad Ash for 24th on the Tars all-time list. Joey Galvis is now 11th on the Tars all-time steals list with 137, passing Scott Martin • Tom Klusman is now 676-392 in 37 years as the Tars head coach.
NEXT UP FOR THE TARS Rollins will meet top-seed Alabama-Huntsville in the NCAA Division II South Region Championship game on Tuesday, March 14 at 8 p.m. ET in Huntsville. Fans can listen to all the action live on the Geico Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com and locally on 91.5 FM WPRK.