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VU Trailblazers hold on for 84-77 win over Wallace State
 March 19, 2014

HUTCHINSON,Kan. – The No. 2-seeded Vincennes University Men’s Basketball Team overcame a mid-game lull to grab some control of its first game Wednesday at the NJCAA Div. I Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament in Hutchinson, KS, and post an 84-77 win over 15th-seeded Walters State.

VU sophomore forward Willie Wiley scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds while fellow sophomore forward Loomis Gerring posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards. Wiley and Gerrig both had 11 in the second half as VU (32-2) clawed back from a six-point deficit to gain double-digit leads. Sophomore guards Devin Foster and Paris Burns both hit a pair of 3-pointers and had 16 each and freshman guard Charles Foster finished with 14.

Wallace State guard Jestin Lewis had a game-high 22 for the Lions (28-7).

The Trailblazers got out to a 16-point, first half lead at 29-13, fueled in part by two 3-pointers from Devin Foster, but Wallace State went on a run to trail by one at 36-35 at halftime. From that point, the game was a battle until VU opened up somewhat of a cushion late in the contest.

VU’s scare got bigger early in the second half when the Trailblazers went 3:30 without a point to open the half and the Lions pulled ahead 42-36. The drought ended for VU when Devin Foster penetrated and his layup rolled off but Wiley pulled down the offensive rebound to be hacked as he tried to put it in. Wiley hit both free throws to make it 42-38 Wallace State and the Trailblazers began the uphill climb to reclaim the lead.

Wiley provided a 46-46 tie when he scored as he was fouled again and made another free throw. Later, Burns scored on a jumper to put the Trailblazers back in front 48-46 but VU couldn’t turn the momentum in its favor and pull away completely. The score was tied at 50-all when the Trailblazers went ahead for good.

The Trailblazers expanded the lead to as much as 11 points several times and led 77-66 with 1:17 left and 79-68 with exactly 1:00 to play. But the Lions stretched the game out by driving hard to the rim throughout much of the final 5:00 while pressing and putting the Trailblazers at the line late to regain possession. Wallace State also knocked down some late treys to keep the game within striking distance if VU didn’t score somehow in the closing seconds.

VU had an 82-71 advantage but Wallace State forward Marcus Burwell buried a 3-pointer from the corner to tighten things up with 37.9 seconds remaining. The Trailblazers were forced to call their final timeout when Burns was cornered by the Lions’ press. When VU inbounded the ball after the timeout, Gerring was fouled and made one of two free throws for an 83-74 lead.

The outcome was still in question when Wallace State pulled down an offensive rebound and Lewis scored off the second chance. VU then turned the ball over to give the Lions the ball on their offensive end. Wallace State crashed the offensive boards on the ensuing possession and had three shots before Gerring was whistled for his fourth foul. Burwell hit one of two free throws and Gerring pulled down the rebound on the miss. He was fouled and hit one of two at the stripe for the final score of 84-77.

The Trailblazers will now face No. 10 seed Columbia State, which defeated No. 7 seed Salt Lake, 81-78, Wednesdayin another second round contest. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. (Vincennes time) Thursday and the winner will earn a spot in Friday’s semifinal round.

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