Cory Thomas and the Fighting Knights of Lynn University Advance.
Dancin’ and Advancin’: Men’s Basketball Advances to NCAA South Region Final as Berry’s 3-Pointers Bury the Bucs
Lakeland, Fla.- Third time was the charm for Lynn University’s men’s basketball team. The Fighting Knights upset No. 2 seed and Sunshine State Conference rival Barry, 90-82, in the NCAA South Region Semifinals on Sunday night. The victory places the Blue & White in the regional finals for the first time since 2005 and can history repeat itself? That year Lynn reached the Division II Final Four and posted a 29-6 record.
Lynn (21-9) came out hot in the opening minutes of the game. The Fighting Knights knew they had to get ahead early and were playing with a sour taste in their mouth after losing to Barry twice during the regular season. The Fighting Knights led 4-0 but two baskets by Savad Garner made it a tie game at 17:38. Back-to-back three-pointers by Ben Berry gave Lynn a 10-4 lead. The Blue & White took its largest lead of the half, 30-15, with 6:20 to play. Barry was able to bring it within nine on two occasions but Lynn held on to lead 40-29 at halftime.
Berry shot 5-for-7 from three-point range to lead all scorers with 17 points. Fred Landers had 10 points as the Blue & White shot 45.5 percent from the field. Not one member of the Bucs squad scored in double figures despite shooting 34.4 percent from the field as team. 53.8 percent shooting from the charity stripe troubled the No. 12 team in the nation and Lynn out-rebounded Barry 23-14.
The Fighting Knights pulled ahead by 15 once again in the opening minutes of the second half but Barry would begin to slowly chip away at the deficit. The Bucs made it a two-possession game, 54-48, with a trey by Arie Williams at 12:43. A three-pointer by Yunio Barrueta made it a 56-53 game in Lynn’s favor. The two teams exchanged baskets but a jumper by Garner at the six minute mark cut the Fighting Knights lead to two, 64-62. Two minutes later Deric Hill hit a shot from downtown to put the Bucs within one, 72-71. Aaron Harrison hit a big trey to respond once again make it a four-point game.
The Blue & White took multiple trips to the charity stripe in the final minutes which sealed Lynn’s victory. Landers had 13 points in the second stanza as the Blue & White shot 57.1 percent from the field. Lynn held Barry to 52.6 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Bucs once again 19-14.
The Fighting Knights shot 50.8 percent from the field in the win. Berry had 24 points to lead all scorers and Landers had his second consecutive 20-point game with 23 points shooting 7-for-15 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Russell Wlison had 17 points and eight rebounds, six offensive, while dishing out nine assists. Harrison added 13 points with two steals. Barry was led by Barrueta who had 21 points and six rebounds with four steals.
Barry’s record season comes to an end with the loss, finishing 2014-15 with a 25-6 record, its best in program history. Lynn improves to 21-6 overall and will face No. 1 Florida Southern in the regional finals on Tuesday, March 17, at 7 pm. The Mocs knocked out four-seed West Alabama in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.
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