KANSAS CITY, MO (WKYT) - Heart and grit have been two consistent components for Georgetown College men’s basketball team. Both shined once again on ESPN3 as the No. 13 Tigers (27-8) roared back from an eight-point halftime deficit and a five-point deficit late to knock out Louisiana State University-Shreveport in the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Fab Four game Monday in Kansas City, Mo.
Monty Wilson, one-shy of his career high, hit the biggest shot of the season with a bomb of a three-pointer as time wound under a second for GC’s 90-88 comeback win. The junior finished with 32 points and eight rebounds.
The Tigers return to the finals for the fifth time and first since 2000. GC is 1-3 in the finals, winning the crown in 1998.
“I’m proud of these guys and the fight they have,” said GC coach Chris Briggs. “We enjoy this for a moment and then refocus. Southwestern (Assemblies of God) is a great team, and we have less than 24 hours to strategize and hit the floor.”
GC will face SAGU, an 80-64 winner of No. 4 Lindsey Wilson College in the first semifinal game Monday, at 8:30 pm EST Tuesday in the championship game. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Senior Garel Craig gave his team its first lead with just more than a minute remaining and then put GC in front again with a layup with less than a minute left. LSU-S held for the final shot and sent Tevin Hall in to the lane where he was fouled with 8.6 remaining. The 87 percent free throw shooter knocked down both for the one-point edge, 88-87.
Briggs called a time out and his team calmly executed the final play. Craig rubbed off a screen from Deondre McWhorter as Wilson came off a screen from Vic Moses. The point guard dropped the ball to the open Wilson, who was a good four or five steps behind the three-point line. The junior did not hesitate and with 1.2 showing launched his shot. It hit iron and then nothing but net, a sweet sound for the Tigers.
The officials put .4 on the clock, but it was not enough time for Jake Green to line up his halfcourt heave. It fell short as Georgetown stormed the court and punched a ticket to the finals.
Craig finished with 17 as did fellow senior Allan Thomas, who hit three huge threes in the second half alone. Vic Moses tallied his fourth double-double of the tournament with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
As a team, the Tigers out-rebounded the Pilots 45-33, which also led to 24 second chance points.
“I think we were able to wear them down a bit,” Briggs said. “Vic, Montavious (Marc), Monty, Allan were all huge on the boards. We just kept battling. It is something we’ve been doing all season.”
The Tigers have faced several uphill moments this year with injuries and illnesses. Briggs has dealt with a short bench, sometimes just six guys healthy. But it was a game on the road at Cumberland University that started to display the determination this team had. Rallying from a double-digit second half deficit, Georgetown pulled off a three point win, 88-85. Since that win the Tigers are 19-4. They have not lost back-to-back games and knocked off several higher ranked opponents along the way.
This is the first meeting for GC and SAGU. It is only the second time ever for the Lions (33-4) to be in the national tournament and first time in the finals. Georgetown is on a record 22nd straight appearance in Kansas City.