POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - St. Thomas (Fla.) guard Kevin Hincapie knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer, as the No. 11 Bobcats got past the No. 22 Union College men's basketball team, 75-72, on Thursday evening in the First Round of the 2014 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Championship at Keeter Gymnasium.
With the heartbreaking loss, Union ends their 2013-14 season with a 28-5 overall mark. St. Thomas moves onto the Second Round with the win, improving to 26-6 on the year with the victory.
It was a defensive battle in the first half, as both teams wrestled with the lead back and forth. With 8:52 to go, guard Michael Bueter (FR, Newport, Ky. ) nailed the first of a few big threes on the night, giving the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the evening at 23-17.
But, St. Thomas came back, tying the game up for the 10th time in the period with 2:22 to go at 34-all. After the Bobcats took the lead at 35-34 with 1:37 to go, Bueter knocked down another big trey with 1:04 to go, giving Union the lead back at 37-35. That lead held through the last minute, as the Bulldogs led it 37-36 at the break.
In the second half, it was more of the same between the teams, with the lead swinging back and forth, and both teams answering each other constantly. Things came to a head with 10 minutes left, as Union took their second biggest lead of the evening after DeAntray Stevens (SO, Cincinnati, Ohio) made a three, going up 59-54.
But, St. Thomas came back, tying the game up for the 13th time with 6:33 left. The Bobcats then made a big shot on their end with 3:40 to go, taking a 69-66 lead into the game's final three minutes.
After an Archie Adams (SR, Aiken, S.C.) free throw, and a defensive stop, Stevens gave Union the lead back nailing a deep three with 2:04 to go at 70-69. However, St. Thomas came right back down the floor and made a deep three of their own, giving the Bobcats the lead back at 72-70 with 1:28 left.
On Union's next possession, Gerard Newby (FR, Lexington, Ky. ) was able to tip-in a missed shot at the basket, knotting the game up for the 14th and final time at 72-72 with 1:09 left. On STU's next possession, the Bobcats turned it over, giving Union the ball with 40 seconds left.
But, Union turned it right back over to St. Thomas with 16 seconds left, giving the Bobcats the last possession. This set the stage for Hincapie's heroics, as the guard made his first three of the night at the buzzer to give St. Thomas the victory.
Overall, Stevens led four double-digit scores on the night for Union, scoring 20 points. Forward Newby scored 12 points (on 5-of-5 shooting), Bueter ended with 11 points, and Deante Johnson (JR, Cincinnati, Ohio) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.
St. Thomas was led in the win by Floyd Battle and Davorn Bryant, who scored 15 points, apiece, off the bench.
By the Numbers
- Despite losing this evening, Union will end the season with the best record in a year in program history at 28-5.
- Four of the five losses the Bulldogs suffered on the year were by single digits. Two of those losses came in overtime, and two came on successful shots at the buzzer by the opposition.
- Johnson ends his 2013-14 season with another double-digit effort, his 28th such night on the year (out of 33 games).
- Stevens was just as much of a factor for the Bulldogs since being inserted into the line-up after Holiday break, scoring in double-figures in 16 of the 19 games he played in on the year.
- Two Union players ended their careers in the loss - guard Tarik Smith (SR, Tempe, Ariz. ) and forward Adams. Smith finished the night with eight points, while Adams scored seven points, snatching six rebounds, as well.