Bowie State 72,
Massachusetts Lowell 62
With five senior starters leading the way, Bowie State overcame a sluggish first half and eliminated Massachusetts Lowell, 72-62, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament at Lakeland Center today.
The Bulldogs advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in school history.
"It basically came down to who wanted the game more," Bowie State Coach Luke D'Alessio said. "Our seniors made the plays down the stretch when we needed it. When we needed a rebound, they got it. When we needed a steal, they got it. When we needed a big basket, they got it."
Bowie State, ranked 10th nationally with a 30-4 record, will play Kentucky Wesleyan, an 85-60 winner over Cal Poly-Pomona, at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The championship game is Saturday at 1 p.m., and will be televised nationally by CBS.
Lowell, ranked sixth, concluded its season at 28-5.
The Bulldogs overcame a lackluster first half by holding the River Hawks to just one basket during a nine-minute stretch early in the second half.
"The biggest thing we did in the second half was not turn the ball over," D'Alessio said. "The thing I was very unhappy with in the first half was we didn't have ball pressure."
That changed after the half. Lowell shot 14 of 36 in the second half, and Bowie State took the lead for good with 9:16 remaining when Tim Washington, the Bulldogs' center who posted 15 points and 11 rebounds, made a jumper for a 43-41 lead.
The Bulldogs had just tied the game at 41 on two free throws by senior Allen Van Norden, significant because the foul shots were awarded after the third foul on Lowell's top scorer, Elad Inbar.
Inbar led all scorers with a season-high 27 points, but fouled out with 2:16 left.
"It wasn't over yet, but that was one of the strategies -- getting him in foul trouble," senior Stephen Moss-Kelley said. "He played a terrific game offensively. We couldn't stop him."
The Bulldogs were deadly at the free throw line down the stretch, making 14 of 16 as Lowell was forced to foul.
Moss-Kelley, who led the Bulldogs with 21 points, could see his teammates struggling at times.
"I saw in the first half that Tim [Washington] was kind of struggling a little bit," Moss-Kelley said. "It's my job to step up when we need it, so I took it on myself to get the guys going and take the pressure off."
Moss-Kelley went on a tear with three three-pointers and scored 16 first-half points.