The Greenville University men's basketball team is headed to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in program history after a 126-119 win over Blackburn College in the 2018 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship game.
Blackburn, playing in their first conference tournament since 2006 and having won their last three games all in overtime, came out with energy and grabbed a 17-8 lead to open the game up. The Beavers hit seven of their first nine shots in the game with five different Beavers putting up points during the run.
Greenville answered back with an 18-2 run to grab the lead, one they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game despite Blackburn's best efforts. The Panthers took a 69-52 lead into half-time, using nine three-point field goals to do their damage. Blackburn meanwhile made just 4-of-16 three-point attempts in the opening half.
The first minute of the second-half encapsulated the game as Blackburn committed a turnover on the opening possession and Greenville prompltly knocked down a triple on the other end. Greenville held a double digit led for nearly 25-minutes during the game until Blackburn mounted a final come back attempt.
Down by as many as 24 points Blackburn worked the lead down to four points with 4:07 remaining in the game after a pair of Malcolm Scott free-throws to make the score 110-106. After a defensive stop the Beavers had the ball once again to get closer but the high-pressure Panther defense forced a turnover along the sidelines, leading to a 9-0 Panther run started by a three-pointer from guard Johari Dix. Fittingly Dix would put the final Panther points on the board, with a pair of free-throws, that would extend his teams lead.
Dix netted a game high 26 points, adding eight assists, and was named the SLIAC Tournament MVP. Adam Warren added 23 points and 16 rebounds to earn All-Tournament honors for Greenville as well. Greenville knocked down 17 three-pointers in the game while shooting 48-percent from the field.
Blackburn was led by Karson Hayes' 26 points. Duncan King, 20 points, and Malcolm Scott, 14 points and 9 rebounds, both earned All-Tournament honors. Also named to the All-Tournament team were Eureka's Shea Feehan and Westminster's Kobe Wands.
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