Despite not scoring for the final 2:32 of the game, the Trinity Thunder survived a late Dillard rally to win 47-46 and advance to the championship game.
The game featured 37 fouls and ended when Dillard’s Jalen Haynes was called for an offensive foul on virtually the final play of the game. Trinity had to inbounds the ball with 0.1 left on the clock.
McDonald’s All-American Daishen Nix of Trinity again struggled to stay on the court as he spent much of the night on the bench in foul trouble. He finished with only six points in 17 minutes.
His homecoming has been stalled due to fouls, but Trinity has continued to prevail in close games. Tonight, Quentin Lowery and Jan Njock picked up the slack with 13 points apiece.
With the game tied at 38-38 at the start of the fourth quarter, Lowery and Njock combined to score seven of the team’s final nine points.
Njock’s jumper made it 47-40 with 2:32 to play. The Thunder didn’t score again.
Dillard caught fire at the end, thanks to Ivan Reynolds (12 points) and Dimitri Bernot, to make for a dramatic finish.
Reynolds scored four straight points, including an emphatic two-handed dunk. And Bernot picked the pocket of Dominic Daniels at midcourt and then converted a tough layup in traffic to pull Dillard within 47-46.
With 9 seconds left and his team nursing a one-point cushion, Nix missed the front end of a one-plus-one free-throw situation to give Dillard a chance to win the game.
The Panthers didn’t call a timeout but got the ball to their best player in Haynes (17 points, 17 rebounds), who powered his way to the hoop when he was called for an offensive foul.
The pace of the game was slowed by fouls, yet neither team took advantage from the charity stripe with Dillard going 9-of-14 and Trinity 3-of-9.
Trinity stretched its lead to 30-20 at halftime, with Lowery netting eight points in the second quarter.
Dillard opened the second half on an 8-0 run, highlighted by a beautiful spin move by Haynes that resulted in the hoop and the harm. He hit the free throw to cap the three-point play and pull the Panthers within 30-28.
Dillard took its final lead at 37-34 on a 3-pointer by Stephon Edwards.
Dillard 8 12 18 8 – 46
Trinity 11 19 8 9 – 47
Dillard – Reynolds 12, Edwards 3, Mack 2, Bernot 2, Bromley 4, Burrows 6, Haynes 17, Roblejo 0.
Trinity – Nix 6, Glasgow 0, Lowery 13, Mou 2, Daniels 4, Njock 13, Pillich 9.