Benedict Comes Up Short At SIAC Tourney

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By BC SID

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BC SID) -- The fifth-seed Benedict College Tigers saw their reign as two-time defending champions of the SIAC Men's Basketball Tournament come to an end, as the top-seed Fort Valley State Wildcats survived a tough battle and took a 75-74 overtime victory in the quarterfinals of the 2014 tournament on Wednesday at the Bill Harris Arena.

Fort Valley State's Nigel Domineck hit one of two free throws with 20 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime. In overtime, Fort Valley State's Corey Hunter hit a layup with 15 seconds left to give the Wildcats the lead, and Benedict's Andrew Crawford missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Tigers closed out the 2013-14 season with a 17-11 record. Fort Valley State improves to 20-8 and will play in the semifinals on Friday. The Wildcats will play the winner of Thursday's contest between Stillman and Paine.

Deonte Johnson led the Tigers with 23 points and eight rebounds. Lamar Adkins finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, but fouled out with 32 seconds left in regulation.

The Wildcats were led by Brandon Davey, the SIAC Player of the Year, with 27 points. Hunter added 14.

Although Benedict out-rebounded Fort Valley State 39-29 overall, the Wildcats had a 12-10 advantage on the offensive boards. Benedict also committed a season-high 25 turnovers. Those factors helped the Wildcats take 18 more shots in the game than the Tigers (68-50).

"It was a tough battle," Benedict head coach Fred Watson said. "We just gave them too many opportunities. They beat us on the offensive glass, and forced us into a lot of turnovers. That was the difference in the game. I'm proud of my team. I'm proud of their effort. They left it all on the floor. We just came up short."

The game was tight from the start. Benedict had as much as a six-point lead in the first half and 35-30 at the half. The Tigers opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Johnson to give them their biggest lead of the game, 38-30.

The Wildcats went on a 10-1 run to take a 40-39 lead after a 3-pointer by Davey with 15:50 left. Fort Valley State took its biggest lead, 51-45, on a jumper by Hunter with 10:56 left to play. The Tigers scored the next six points to tie the game, with Johnson tying the game on a dunk with 9:25 left.

After the Wildcats went ahead 60-57 with 3:48 left, the Tigers got a 3-point play by Brennan Reynard and a 3-pointer by Justin Peeples for a 63-60 lead with 2:16 left.

Davey scored the next two baskets for the Wildcats for a 64-63 lead with 1:13 left to play. Crawford hit a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 66-64 lead with 40 seconds left.

Joshuah Davis hit one of two free throws with 32 seconds left to cut Benedict's lead to 66-65. Johnson missed a free throw on the other end for Benedict. Domineck missed a shot for the Wildcats, but got his own rebounds and was fouled. He missed the first free throw, but made the second to tie the game at 66. Johnson missed a short jumper at the buzzer for the Tigers.

In overtime, a 3-pointer by Peeples gave the Tigers a 71-68 lead, but Joshuah Davis answered for Fort Valley with a 3-pointer to tie the game. After Johnson hit a free throw, Domineck scored on a dunk to give the Wildcats a 73-72 lead with 49 seconds left. Reynard came down and scored on a driving layup to put the Tigers back on top with 32 seconds left.

The Wildcats missed a shot, but Hunter scored off the offensive rebound with 15 seconds. Benedict turned the ball over, but Hunter missed both free throws with four seconds left. The Tigers were able to get the ball to Crawford in the corner, but his 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.

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