Last night’s play-in game was decided by a surprisingly narrow margin. A fierce battle at the guard spot kept the game interesting whilst the bigs traded blows down low. A wild finish capped off an incredible game from both teams with 2012 snatching victory at the very end.
2012 got an early lead behind Tu Holloway (26/5/3) and Mark Lyons (22/6/3) but then surrendered a 19-2 run to trail 30-18 after 14 minutes of play. Leading the first half surge for 2014 was James Farr (13/2/0) who came off the bench for an instant impact. 2012 began to chip away at the deficit. Lyons hit a 3 then finished a take to the rim, then Andre Walker dunked two chances down low before Lyons hit yet another 3. Holloway got fouled and jarred both free throws to end the half trailing 43-41.
Before the first minute had run off the clock in the second half, Kenny Frease (4/4/2) had dunked (and done a airplane impression) 2012 into the lead. 2014 went stagnant for a few possessions while Semaj (18/7/3) tried to get going. Dez Wells (7/7/2) then buried a jumper to push the lead to 6 early in the second half.
This was when Semaj started to come alive. He converted at the rim, knocked down a pair of free throws then assisted Farr and Justin Martin (9/4/5) on consecutive possessions. Myles Davis and Dee Davis assisted each other behind the arc to tie the game at 69-69 with 6 minutes to play.
The teams then traded buckets in a display of offensive skill. Holloway canned a jumper, Reynolds answered with a dunk. Stainbrook (6/6/2) makes a hook-shot, Jeff Robinson (5/3/0) hits a turnaround jumper. This left 2012 leading 79-78 with just a minute and a half to play.
Semaj Christon then burst through the lane and dunked for the one-point lead. A poor shot from Dez Well was snatched up by Christon himself and he promptly nailed a pull-up to make the score 82-79 with 58 seconds left. Mark Lyons, who hadn’t scored in 10 minutes, converted a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one. Chris Mack (2012) had his team play out for a stop, knowing there was still a 10 second difference in shot clock and game clock. His team did just that, but Mark Lyons, trying to be the hero, saw his shot clang off the iron and into the hands of James Farr.
Eight seconds remain, James Farr at the line with the chance to make it a three point game. He misses the front end of the 1-and-1, Dez Well pulls down the rebound and looks for the nearest guard. Mark Lyons rushes to him, gets the ball and pushes it up the court. Knowing he has little time, Lyons doesn’t look for any pass, instead he gets to the paint and puts up a jumper over Matt Stainbrook. The shot finds nothing but the bottom of the net, Xavier 2012 wins 83-82 at the buzzer.
The 2012 team advance to play the 2018 Musketeers in, what should be, a fierce battle. That matchup will be up on Twitter for voting tomorrow. Will Lyons stay hot and spring the upset, or will Tre and Co. be too much for them?