TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (February 28, 2014) – No. 3-seed Hanover College advanced to its seventh Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament title game in program history with a 61-54 win over No. 2-seed Defiance College on Friday evening at Hulbert Arena on the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology campus.
Hanover (19-8) used an 11-2 run in the second half to build a 42-31 lead with 11:10 left. A three pointer by Jacob Rieger gave the Panthers a 41-31 advantage. The lead grew to 13 points, 46-33, following a jumper by Kyle James at the 9:48 mark.
The scoring spurt came after Defiance opened the second half on a 7-3 spurt to trail 31-29 with 15:17 left.
Defiance (20-6) mounted a rally in the closing minutes. Trailing 54-46, Travis Schomaeker got a steal and drained a three-point field goal to bring the regular season co-champions to within five points, 54-49, with 1:55 left.
After a Hanover turnover on its next possession, Defiance’s Ryan Hicks missed a seven-foot jumper in the paint. Hanover regained possession of the loose ball, forcing the Yellow Jackets to foul.
Hanover’s Tim Bass made both free throws to extend the lead to 56-49 with 49 seconds left. The Panthers made five of their seven throw attempts in the final minute to secure the victory. The team has made 17-of-19 free throw attempts in the final minute of both tournament wins (12-of-12 against Franklin College on Tuesday).
In the first half, Hanover had a 9-2 run to take a 19-10 advantage after a three-point field goal by Bass with 10:48 left in the period. The senior guard scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half.
The Panthers led 21-12 following a basket by Corey Muchmore midway through the first half.
Defiance used its defense to trim the deficit, holding the Panthers scoreless for the next five minutes. A layup from Mason Roth brought the Yellow Jackets to within one point, 21-20, at the 6:50 mark.
Hanover led 28-22 at the break and held Defiance to 1-of-8 shooting from behind the arc.
Individually, Bass led three double-figure scorers for Hanover with 16 points. Rieger added 13 points and V.J. Billups scored 10 points.
Defiance’s Bernard Edwards had 14 points, while Hicks and Roth each scored 12 points. The Yellow Jackets made just 2-of-14 three-point field goal attempts in the contest.
Saturday’s championship game is set for 7 p.m. from Hulbert Arena. Live statistics and video will be available at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/rhit.portal. The tournament champion receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.