Final Four Bound
The Roadrunner men’s basketball team continues their historic season as they advance to the NWAC tournament final four for the first time in program history.
The team traveled to Everett, Washington for the team’s first tournament appearance since 2011. The opening round saw them beat the Edmonds Tritons 81-72 on Saturday, March 10. They followed that up with a 84-75 win over the defending NWAC champions and current eastern region champions, the Walla Walla Warriors, on Sunday, March 11.
The first round game against Edmonds started out slow, as neither team could open up a lead on the other. A tightly contested and tightly officiated first half saw both teams trading buckets throughout. Edmonds was able to grab a 40-36 lead going into the second half.
The second half featured more back-and-forth between the two teams. Down 53-48 with 15 minutes left in the game, the Roadrunners went on a 12-4 run to take a 60-57 lead with 10 minutes left, forcing Edmonds to take a timeout. LB never looked back after the stoppage and closed the game out, winning 81-72.
Trent Van Cleave lead the team in scoring with 17 points and also grabbed 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Taylor Jensen fell a point shy of a double-double with 11 rebounds and 9 points. Riley Davis also supplied 13 points off of the bench.
In the quarterfinal game against Walla Walla, LB looked good in the early going as they jumped out to a 7-3 lead over the Warriors. Walla Walla then had 8 unanswered points to make the score 11-7. The teams traded baskets until Walla Walla opened the lead to 40-30 towards the end of the half. An LB three at the end of the period sent the Roadrunners into the half down 7 trailing 42-35.
LB came out aggressive in the second half, trimming their deficit to 3, down 50-47. After an official timeout the Roadrunners continued to match Walla Walla down the stretch. They were able to seize a 61-58 lead, causing the Warriors to take a timeout. The Roadrunners only continued to extend their lead as they were able to find open looks and capitalize. LB coasted to an 84-75 win and earned a spot in the semifinals.
The Roadrunners finished with four players in double figures. Van Cleave and Bailey Evers lead the team with 17 points, Jensen earned a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Cooper Getsfrid finished with 15 points.
Evers talked about how the team was able to limit Walla Walla’s three point shooting in the second half.
“In the first half we had a couple mishaps on assignments. At halftime we really emphasized knowing what we were going to do against certain players and not letting them get to where they like to get. We limited that and we came out on top,” said Evers.
Jensen felt the team did a good job on going for high percentage looks rather than relying too heavily on three-point shooting.
“If you put up a lot of three pointers there’s going to be a lot of misses. The percentage isn’t very high even if you hit as many as they do… It’s tough to hit threes consecutively so we just had to gain rebounds,” said Jensen.
LB will face the Peninsula Pirates and their fourth ranked defense for a shot at the NWAC title game on Saturday, March 17 at 2 p.m. Follow the action live on the NWAC streaming site at nwacsports.org.