Tonight's USCAA National Semi-Final was so big that it would take two days for it to finish. With the game starting more than an hour behind schedule, the #2 seeded Mountaineers of Berea College took on the #3 seeded Warriors of Rochester College.
The Mountaineers came sprinting out of the blocks scoring the first eight points of the game behind a Seth Beckham layup and a pair of Aaron Ponder 3-pointers. BC would score those eight points in the first 2:30 of the game; but it would be another five minutes before they scored again. The Warriors, the USCAA Division I's top defensive team, showed their mettle as they forced the Mountaineers into multiple turnovers and contested shots.
The Warriors offense finally got on track as Honorable Mention All-American Milton Cribbs got red-hot scoring 13 points in the half on 6-10 shooting. RC was also dominate on the boards limiting the Blue Crew to just two offensive rebounds in the first half. With the :10 showing on the clock, the game's other Honorable Mention All-American, Daishon Robinson made his presence felt when he hit a 3-pointer from NBA distance to send the teams into the locker room 23-23.
Both teams came out of halftime determined to impose their will on upon their opponent. The Blue Crew was bombing away from long range while the Warriors continued to hammer away down low and depend on their defense. BC was hot early behind Ponder and Robinson and moved out to a seven point lead. The lead wouldn't last as a Warrior 3-pointer would tie the score at 39-39.
The score would remain there for what seemed like forever before it was Ponder time again. This time the Berea native would make his own NBA length three from the top of the key, only to follow it up with another from the deep corner. Rochester would come right back with back-to-back-to-back layups to push the score to 47-45; but more important they would chew up over two minutes in the process.
Down two, Robinson would go to the line for two free throws, but only come away with one point, forcing the Mountaineers to foul and hope. The Warriors would go 4-5 from the charity stripe down the stretch, but that last miss gave Berea a chance. Robinson took the ball up the right side of the lane and with two Warriors wrapped around him. His layup was off the mark, the rebound went out of bounds with 0:00.6 left on the clock and the game was decided - 51-50.
In their final game, the seniors led the way for the Mountaineers. Robinson had a game high 19 points, while Ponder finished with 15 points going 5-7 from long range. Tevin Webster and London Moore each pulled down a team high nine rebounds, as the Mountaineers finish the 2014-2015 season with a record of 20-6.
An emotional USCAA Coach of the Year, John Hemenway shared this, "Really a tough way to end a great year. We obviously didn't play our best game tonight and I know we'd like to have a lot of plays back; but I couldn't be more proud of my team. Just a tough, unselfish group of kids that have represented Berea College in the best possible way. I would like thank this group for a fantastic season."