INA — Vincennes University sophomore Deshawn Delaney scored twice in the opening minute of overtime and the Trailblazers took it from there as they went on for a 76-65 win over Southwestern Illinois College in the championship game of the Region 24 Men's Basketball Tournament before a large crowd at Rend Lake College.
Considered one of the NJCAA Division I programs in the nation, Vincennes (31-2) led by six points with under three minutes remaining and by 57-53 with 57 seconds left in regulation.
But the Blue Storm responded.
Freshman Jaquail Townser made two free throws and when Region 24 Player of the Year Keanu Post scored on an offensive rebound following a Vincennes turnover, SWIC had tied it at 57.
The Trailblazers had a chance to win the game with time running out, but a Loomis Gehrig jumper hit the back rim as the buzzer sounded.
Delaney then opened the overtime with a basket off an offensive rebound and after SWIC sophomore Tony Bradley hit a free throw, Delaney scored again to make it 61-58.
SWIC (22-11) would get no closer the rest of the way as both Monte Burny and Paul Knapp hit perimeter jumpers to help Vincennes pull away.
SWIC's chances in overtime were hurt by turnovers. The Blue Storm turned the ball over five times in the five-minute extra session, including three turnovers on four possessions when the game was still in doubt.
Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington admitted that turnovers cost his team a chance to win, but SWIC's Hall-of-Fame mentor was still fuming about another issue following the emotional loss.
"The officiating was just horrendous and I just don't mean against my team. There were calls that they (Vincennes) didn't get either,'' Harrington said. "I was told to sit down by one official after I got one time out and was just talking to my team.
"What they (the officials) let go on tonight was ridiculous. I watch basketball three nights a week with teams from the Missouri Valley, Big Ten and Ohio Valley Conference and they aren't anywhere near as physical as it was tonight. Still, the officiating didn't cost us the game. The turnovers are what beat us tonight.''
The win is the Vincennes third of the season over SWIC, which will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament, March 18-23 in Hutchinson, Kan.
SWIC, which got 19 points from Tony Bradley and 15 Townser, trailed just 29-28 at halftime.
But when Post, a 6-foot, 11-inch Missouri recruit, picked up his third and fourth fouls in the opening minute of the second half, the Blue Storm was in trouble.
SWIC also played without Post for eight minutes in the first half, but 7-1 sophomore Matt Piotrowski came off the bench to score eight points.
Tony Bradley also scored eight points in the opening half for SWIC.