Danville Commercial-News (Game Story)
DANVILLE, Ill. -- Sophomore Deandre Clark/Orange scored a game-high 17 points to lead No. 5 seed Richard Bland College to a 71-65 come-from-behind victory past No. 4 seed Parkland (Ill.) College in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship on Thursday night at the Mary Miller Center in Danville, Illinois. Sophomore Gevon Arrington/Petersburg added 16 points, while classmate Jaquan Wooten/Kinston, North Carolina had 10 points for the Statesmen (30-4) in the game played at Danville Area Community College. Richard Bland, winners of 10-straight and 17 of 18, trailed 59-53 before outscoring Parkland 18-6 over the final 6:23, and advances to play No. 1 seed Southwestern (Iowa) Community College (34-1) in the semifinals of the national tournament on Friday night, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Illinois. Luke Beesley scored 14 points for the Cobras (28-4).
Richard Bland, ranked No. 8 in the final NJCAA Division II Top 20 Poll, led 39-32 at halftime behind a combined 15 first-half points from Arrington (8) and Clark (7). The seven-point margin at the intermission was aided late when sophomore Myles Markland/Petersburg completed an old-fashioned three-point play with one-tenth of a second left on the clock … scoring on a driving layup, getting fouled and making the and-one free throw.
Parkland, No. 7 in the final NJCAA DII Poll, outscored the Statesmen 13-5 to begin the decisive second half for a 45-44 lead at 15:41. Arrington answered with a jumper at 14:48 for a 46-45 lead, and sophomore Jalen Jackson/Plainfield, New Jersey scored down low at 13:30 for a 48-47 edge. The Cobras, though, used a 12-5 run to take a 59-53 advantage with 6:43 remaining. Richard Bland, however, showed its tremendous heart and resiliency … battling back with an 18-6 game-ending run for the thrilling comeback victory.
Clark got it started with a three-point field goal at 6:23, and three-straight points from freshman Robert Smith/Hampton had the Statesmen within 61-59 at 5:11. Following a Parkland basket, Clark made 1-2 free throws at 3:15 (63-60), before Wooten scored back-to-back baskets inside to put the Statesmen ahead for good at 64-63 with 1:50 on the clock. Arrington scored at 1:05 (66-63), while the Cobras closed to 66-65 with 58.1-seconds to play. Wooten scored down low again at :38.6 (68-65), before Clark (1-2) and Arrington (2-2) secured the win with 3-4 free throws over the final 29.2-seconds.
Clark led Richard Bland with his game-high 17 points, including 4-9 three-pointers. Arrington added 16 points for the Statesmen, including 4-5 free throws, and Wooten finished with 10 points while limited to 14 minutes with foul difficulties. Smith and freshman Stanley Taylor/Petersburg each contributed five points, while Jackson grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, and freshman Tim Bing Jr./District Heights, Maryland dished out a game-high four assists. Richard Bland shot 52% (26-50) from the field, including 47% (7-15) on three-pointers, and 52% (12-23) at the free throw line.
Beesley led Parkland with his 14 points, adding six rebounds and four assists. Chelby Frazier and Cornelius McIntosh each had 10 points for the Cobras. PC shot 38% (18-47) from the field, including 32% (6-19) on three-pointers, and 79% (23-29) at the line.
Richard Bland and Parkland were playing for the first time in the sport of men's basketball, and the Statesmen now lead the series, 1-0.
Richard Bland's final four opponent in the national semifinal, No. 1 seed Southwestern (also No. 1 in the final NJCAA DII Poll), defeated No. 8 Pima (Ariz.) 81-75 in another quarterfinal contest earlier on Thursday. All games played during the NJCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship will be streamed online and available for free at njcaatv.com.
Richard Bland is making its second National Tournament appearance in three years, after winning the 2015 NJCAA Division II National Championship. The Statesmen are now a perfect 6-0 in games played in Danville, Illinois during the post-season National Tournaments, including the 4-0 run to the title in 2015, while now 2-0 this week.