Oakland City, IN: The Alice Lloyd College Eagles traveled to Oakland City, Indiana to compete in the NCCAA Mideast Regional Tournament. In two action-packed contests, the Eagles defeated Oakland City University and Kentucky Christian University to emerge as champions. Following are recaps of both contests.
March 2, 2020
Mideast Region DI Semi-Finals
Alice Lloyd – 89 | Oakland City University – 83
The host squad put up a mighty tussle before the Eagles regrouped at crunch time to preserve the win. In the opening half, Oakland City, who also is an NCAA DII member, took an early lead, propelled by the play of leading scorer Tyler Toopes. Trailing 10-6 in the first four minutes, ALC would explode behind 8 points from senior guard Blake Smith and 4 more from sophomore forward Will Philpot during a 16-2 burst. With 12:31 showing, the score read 22-12.
The home squad would close the gap to four points only to witness senior guard Ian Lee swish a trio of trifectas to lead an Eagle resurgence. When freshman guard Jared Strickland bagged two late free throws, the Kentucky club led 48-37 at intermission.
In the second half, the Eagles sprinted out of the locker room on a quick 14-6 burst to see their advantage reach its zenith (62-43) at the 15:23 mark. The ALC squad looked to be home-free. However, the Indiana club refused to fold. Urged on by the vocal home contingency, the Mighty Oaks began to chip into the deficit.
Uncharacteristically, the guests went cold and began to also get sloppy with the ball. Due to these two factors, the OCU squad mounted a furious comeback. When Toopes connected on a driving layup with just 1:38 remaining, it capped off a 38-19 blitz and knotted the game at 81-81. Suddenly, the contest was up for grabs.
With the crowd and the momentum squarely against them, the Eagles responded. First, ALC worked the ball for a good shot. Junior guard Noah Young saw his driving attempt rim out, but sophomore center Colyn Sturgill snared the rebound and kicked the pass out to Lee. The guard coolly drained a clutch bomb to give his club an 84-81 edge at .59.
On the next possession, the Eagles played excellent defense and forced Toopes to take a contested shot that banged off the rim. Alice Lloyd’s Young ran down the errant shot and was quickly fouled with 42 ticks remaining. His two swishes made the score 86-81.
Now desperate, Toopes missed another triple and saw Smith gain the board for the visitors (.25). Two charity tosses later, the Eagles could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
For the Eagles (14-16), Smith paved the way with 21 points (8-14 FG). Lee came up big as he rammed in 19 points (7-14FG) and gathered 6 rebounds. The duo also combined to sink 7-13 from long range.
Philpot hit all 6 of his shot attempts and finished with 15 points. He completed the double-double by ripping down 13 boards. Young contributed 10 points and led everyone with 8 assists. Sturgill chipped in with 7 points and 11 rebounds of his own.
Alice Lloyd shot 50% (33-66) from the floor and finished 38.1% (8-21) from behind the arc. They connected on 88.2% (15-17) from the foul line, and also added 48 rebounds, 18 assists, and 2 steals.
The Oaks (10-18) was led in scoring by Toopes with 30 points. His club finished shooting 47.1% (32-68) from the floor and 15% (3-20) from long range. They shot 80% (16-20) from the foul line, and also added 27 rebounds, 20 assists, and 10 steals.
March 3, 2020
Mideast Region DI Finals
Alice Lloyd – 72 | Kentucky Christian University – 62
The Eagles took their first lead of the second half at the 6:41 mark and pulled away with clutch plays to take home their first-ever NCCAA Mideast Regional title. The two clubs had split two regular-season showdowns, each winning at home, so the rubber match would determine the region’s representative in the nationals. Because of the importance of the contest, this final match would prove to be a physical affair.
In the opening half, KCU looked to make short work of the Eagles as they sprinted out to an 8-0 lead in just 1:45 of action. Additionally, Alice Lloyds leading rebounder Will Philpot, suffered an injury just eight minutes in and was forced to sit the remainder of the night.
The Knights would extend their advantage to 17-8 before the ALC crew began to settle down. Eagle coaches Scott Cornett and Gary Stepp would turn to their bench, and they played huge dividends.
Sophomore guard Bryce Slone and freshman center Noah Caudill were called upon, and the duo would lead a resurgence. Their squad went on a 25-14 spurt as Caudill scored 8 consecutive points on strong moves in the paint, Slone swished a couple of jumpers, and Young sank a runner in the lane to give the Caney Creek club their first lead at 33-31. However, when the Knights drilled two late back-to-back threes, they would take a 37-33 advantage at intermission.
In the second half, the Eagles fought valiantly to regain their footing. They would quickly shrink the deficit to just one point, but each time, KCU would answer, usually with a hoop from guard Kobe Brown.
However, the Alice Lloyd men had no plans of going away as they continued to battle. Finally, a powerful move from Caudill with 6:36 left in the contest would give ALC the lead (57-56) they so desperately needed. Next after a solid stop on the defensive end, Slone would swish a 25-foot bomb at 5:50. Now the advantage stood at four (60-56). From that juncture, the tide dramatically turned as the Caney Creek men refused to be denied.
Two consecutive stops on defense led to the fired-up Eagles working the clock down to perfection. Each time, Smith delivered back-to-back late daggers in the paint. Now leading 64-56 with just 3:52 showing, the ALC crew executed like champions and pulled out to a twelve-point lead to ice the well-deserved victory.
For the Eagles (15-16), Smith paved the way with 16 points and nabbed 8 rebounds. Lee came up big once again as he pumped in 13 points and gathered a team-high 9 rebounds. The two seniors both had 2 blocks.
Slone finished with 13 points while Caudill came through with 12 important points. The Lee-Slone duo also combined to sink 6-10 crucial long-range jumpers while Smith and sophomore guard Chandler Stewart each had 3 assists.
Alice Lloyd shot 41.2% (28-68) from the floor and finished 42.1% (8-19) from behind the arc. They connected on 80% (8-10) from the foul line, and also added 44 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals, and 6 blocks.
The Knights (14-18) were led in scoring by Brown and Cole Gilliland, each with 17 points. Their club finished shooting 39.4% (26-66) from the floor and 25% (6-24) from long range. They shot 50% (4-8) from the foul line, and also added 41 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals.
ALC is off until Wednesday, March 18th, when they travel to Winona Lake, Indiana for the NCCAA Men’s DI Basketball National Championship. There, they will join a field of eight elite squads and are guaranteed to play three games. The bracket will be announced once the regional play is completed.