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Pippa Passes, KY:  The Alice Lloyd College Eagles got a huge effort from sophomore guard Ben Soumahoro, and came through to defeat the Asbury University Eagles 82-79, and win the NCCAA DI Mideast Region Tournament. The championship battle was held Saturday, March 5th at the Perry Campus Center. 

The visiting Eagles scored the first two points of the game, which would actually be the only time they led the entire way. The early going would prove to be a shootout between ALC’s Soumahoro and junior guard Bryce Slone, against Asbury’s Eric Powell. 

Slone would bag 9 points in the first six minutes of play to lift Alice Lloyd to an early advantage before he was forced to exit with foul difficulties. However, the Caney Creek crew would still manage to pull out to a 37-25 advantage, with 6:44 remaining, following a layup from sophomore center Noah Caudill, off an assist courtesy of senior guard Noah Young. Asbury would get within five, but the host Eagles would answer to hold a 44-37 advantage at intermission. 

In the second half, the visiting squad would strike first before ALC managed a run once more. When junior forward Will Philpot scored on a strong post move, Alice Lloyd was up by double digits once more (58-47) at 16:02. Alice Lloyd would then see Slone forced to the bench with four fouls. Asbury would then turn to Nick Fort and John Shoulders who promptly led their squad on a 15-4 burst to tie the score (62-62) at 11:50.  Fortunately, the Caney Creek club would then return the favor with a 10-0 blitz over a four-minute stretch, with half of the points provided by the smooth shooting Soumahoro (72-62). 

However, to their credit, AU fought back once more and began to slowly eat into the deficit. Eventually, Asbury would gain possession with the score reading 82-79 and under .30 left in the game. Happily, for the home fans, the Pippa Passes club would play good defense and force Fort to take a tough contested shot that missed. Unfortunately, when the ball was knocked out of bounds by ALC, the Central Kentucky squad was awarded the rock, giving them one final chance to tie. 

On the inbounds pass, they found Powell in the corner. Fortunately for the blue and white, Soumahoro forced him to take a tough shot that came up short. Young then grabbed the errant ball to end the contest and hand the championship banner to the men from Caney Creek. 

For ALC (26-5), three players reached double figure. They were led on the night by Soumahoro, who finished with 31 huge points (11-19 FG; 9-10 FT). He added 8 boards, 3 assists, and 1 block. Philpot registered his 14th double-double of the season by scoring 16 points (6-10) and muscling down 12 rebounds. He also blocked 4 shots. Young was just behind, as he tossed in 10 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished off 10 assists to add his name to the double-double club. Slone finished with 9 points in limited action. 

Alice Lloyd connected on 44.8% (30-67) from the field, and 35.7% (5-14) from long range. From the charity line, they sank 69.6% (16-23). Additionally, ALC registered 44 rebounds, 7 steals, 18 assists, and 8 blocks. 

Asbury (14-11) was led by Fort, Shoulders, and Powell, with 20, 16, and 15 points respectively. Their club connected on 45.2% (28-62) from the field and 37.5% (9-24) from long range. From the foul line, they shot 81.3% (13-16). They also had 32 rebounds, 7 steals, and 8 assists. 

With the hard-fought victory, the Eagles now advance to the NCCAA DI National Tournament, beginning March 16th, in Lake Winona, Indiana. It will be hosted by Grace College. The pairings will be revealed next week once all regions have completed tournament play.