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Blake Smith

BLUEFIELD, VA – The Alice Lloyd College Eagles traveled to Bluefield, Virginia to face the Hiwassee Tigers in the semi-finals of the NCCAA Mideast Regional Tournament. In a game full of incredible runs, the Eagles pulled out a 91-88 victory. 

In the opening half, the Tigers came out of the gates on fire. Behind the strength of seven bombs and 62% field goal accuracy, Hiwassee roared to a 38-19 advantage. The shell-shocked Eagles had no answer as HC was on the verge of blowing the men from Caney Creek out of the water. 

However, Alice Lloyd decided to roll up their sleeves and get to work. The Eagles utilized a trapping press and it began to pay dividends. Unbelievably, they would close the half on a stunning 30-10 run, and the crowd was amazed to see them take a 49-48 lead at intermission. 

In the second half, ALC used that momentum to slowly increase their lead, reaching a zenith of 15 points. Just when it appeared that the game was out of reach, incredibly, the Tigers then buckled down, turned the tables, and began to mount a comeback of their own. 

Hiwassee would slowly come back, and they managed to take an 88-87 lead late in the contest.  With just under one minute left to play, Alice Lloyd sophomore forward Chance Cornett would score on an isolation play. After HC misfired with just over .30 remaining, sophomore guard Blake Smith was fouled and swished two huge free throws with .13 remaining. Now trailing by three points and with the clock winding down, Hiwassee would get two last-second looks, but fortunately, neither was close as the Eagles held on for the improbable win. 

For the victorious ALC club (16-12), five players would reach double digits. Smith would lead a balanced attack by sinking 8-11 field goals and all 5 free throws for 21 points. Cornett hit half of his 16 attempts to finish with 19. Senior guard Austin Crisp stuffed the stat sheet as he drilled 7-14 attempts to add 16 points while registering 7 huge steals and tied junior forward Dondre Warren with 6 rebounds. Senior center Jake Allen and freshman guard Timmy Dalton chipped in 11 and 10 points apiece.  

The victors finished the night shooting 52.4% (33-63) from the field including 25 % (2-8) from behind the arc. They sank 65.7% (23-35) from the charity stripe and added 30 rebounds, 13 assists, and 11 steals.  

HC (15-8) concluded their season led in scoring by guard Jay Cade with 21 points. His squad shot 53.7% (36-67) from the field and 45.5% (10-22) from deep. They finished at 66,7% (6-9) from the charity stripe and added 34 rebounds, 11 assists, and 7 steals.  

With the victory, ALC now advances to the championship game of the NCCAA Mideast Regional Tournament when they face the host Bluefield College Rams on Saturday, March 3rd at 4:00 pm. The winner earns a spot in the 2018 NCCAA National Championship beginning March 14th at Lake Winona, Indiana.