Bruins beat buzzer for MCAC Championship

BU claimed their second straight and 12th MCAC Tournament Championship on Tuesday
BU claimed their second straight and 12th MCAC Tournament Championship on Tuesday

POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. -- Junior Taylor Young (Hawthorne, Calif.) scored 14 of his 25 points in the last 3:29 of regulation and overtime, including hitting the game-winning layup with 1.6 seconds left as the Bellevue University basketball team defeated College of the Ozarks, 91-89, in an overtime thriller on Tuesday night at Keeter Gymnasium in the 2014/15 Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship Game. Ranked ninth nationally, Bellevue improves to 28-5 on the year while No. 12 Ozarks falls to 24-7.

Bellevue was making their 18th appearance (in 21 seasons) in the MCAC Championship Game all-time and sixth in a row. The title is 12th all-time for Bellevue, fifth in the last six years, and second straight.

Ozarks and Bellevue split during the regular season with each team winning on the other's home floor. Both sides are assured of qualifying for the NAIA Division II National Tournament which starts next week. Bellevue gained the MCAC's automatic bid by winning the conference tournament and Ozarks, the National Tournament host is also guaranteed a bid.

A missed three by Derek Daniels was corralled by senior Dimitri Chonis (Tucson, Ariz.) prompting coach Shane Paben to call a timeout with 20 seconds left and set up the game-winner for the Bruins. Young took the ball off a handoff, worked his way into the lane, used a spin move to clear space, and laid the ball in off the backboard with 1.6 seconds to play to give Bellevue a 91-89 lead.

The teams went back and forth early in the extra session with Bellevue building an 84-82 lead before Cameron Paschke canned a trifecta with 2:52 to play to give the home-standing Bobcats an 85-84 advantage.

A Pete Leonard free throw extended the Ozarks lead to two but Young came right down the other end for the Bruins and converted an old-fashioned three point play to give Bellevue the 87-86 lead with 2:09 to play. Canyon Smith, who hit a big three in the first half, drained another with 1:04 to go, giving the Bobcats an 89-87 edge. On the ensuing possession junior Marquis Aaron (Pittsburg, Calif.) scored in the paint to tie the game up.

The Bruins led by as many as 12 (30-18) in the first half but a three-pointer by Smith with 2:05 pulled the Bobcats within one (35-34). Joe Young nailed a three-pointer with 49 seconds to play in the half to allow Ozarks to tie the game for the first time since 16-16 at the 12:42 mark. A layup by Young allowed the Bruins to reclaim a two point edge.

Senior Percy Lemle (Carson, Calif.) scored 15 of his game-high 28 points in the opening 20 minutes to pace Bellevue to a 41-39 lead at the halftime intermission as Young's 28-footer at the buzzer clanged off the rim. Both teams shot well in the first half with each side connecting on 55.6 percent of their field goals (15-27). Bellevue made 4-of-12 three point attempts and 7-of-8 from the free throw line while Ozarks was 3-of-6 from deep and 6-of-7 at the charity stripe.

Ozarks took their first lead of the game at 45-44 on a layup by Derek Daniels at the 17:37 mark. It marked the first Ozarks lead since 14-13 at the 13:21 mark of the first half.

Ozarks controlled the early going in the second half, building their lead to a game-high seven points on a Pete Leonard layup at the 13:07 mark (54-47). Facing a five-point deficit, senior Alex Worthen-Harris (Phoenix, Ariz.) snagged an offensive board and scored the put back while being fouled to pull the Bruins within a single possession at 56-53.

After a pair of defensive stops, a layup by Lemle, and a long three from junior Pogos Trunyan (Sacramento, Calif.) Bellevue pulled within one (60-59) at the 8:06 mark. Bellevue forced another steal on the next Ozarks possession and an offensive rebound led to a second chance three-pointer by senior Thomas Hammock (Compton, Calif.) for Bellevue's first lead since early in the second half.

Young, looking to take over the game for Bellevue, connected on back-to-back baskets for the Bruins to give them a 75-71 lead with 3:04 to play after connecting on the accompanying free throw after the second field goal. The Bruins led 78-76 when Alex Santiago scored off a Bellevue turnover with 28 seconds to play. Young drove to the pain, looking for a last shot for Bellevue, but he was called for a travel on a jump stop with 3.3 seconds left to give Ozarks the ball back. Santiago carved through the Bellevue defense but didn't get a shot off as time expired to send the game into overtime.

Worthen-Harris joined Lemle and Young in double figures with 12 points. Young pulled down a team-high eight rebounds while Worthen-Harris contributed seven boards, respectively. Hammock finished the game with nine points on three three-pointers, giving him multiple three-point field goals made for the 25th time in 33 games on the season.

Bellevue will next play on Wednesday, Mar. 11 in the Opening Round of the NAIA Division II National Tournament against an opponent to be announced. The bracket (including pairings and game times) will be announced via a live video selection show on at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night.