By Mike DeVader, CCSJ Assistant AD of Sports Information & Communications
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – (Box Score) The most historic season in Crimson Wave men's basketball history came to a close after the Bethel (Ind.) Pilots pulled away from CCSJ in the second half to advance to Friday play, 104-78, inside Keeter Gymnasium on Thursday night in Point Lookout, Mo.
Calumet wraps up the 2016-17 season with a mark of 17-14 after the final buzzer sounded in the team's first appearance in the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship.
"Bethel's really good and their size gave us problems," head coach Ryan Sexson said. "We looked like a team that hadn't played in a couple weeks and we didn't share the ball like we had been in the past – but, we hung in there and made some shots – and at times we defended well, but I think their size just kind of overcame us in the end."
The Crimson Wave took the lead right away on a 3-pointer by Devin Harrison from the right wing to give his squad an early advantage after netting the first postseason made basket in team history. The Chicago, Ill., native and CCAC All-Conference Second Teamer finished with 15 points on the night.
Both teams would feel each other out through the early minutes of the game and go up-and-down the court looking for transition points. Each squad would make statement shots before seeing the other come right back. Michael Brooks tied the bout for the third time in the first period on a trey just under seven minutes left before intermission.
From there, the Pilots would end the half on a 15-7 run and not look back the rest of the way after leading, 44-36, after 20 minutes of action.
The No. 1 seed would come out of the locker room and put the pressure down on the Wave, bolting out to an 18-point advantage with less than four minutes gone in the second period. CCSJ was not done yet, however, as Sexson's bunch continued to claw back into contention.
The turning point of the game came with just under 10 minutes remaining – and right after the Crimson Wave got within 12 points at 72-60 – where Bethel nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to grab momentum back for good.
Calumet shot a combined 27-for-67 (40.3 percent), while giving up 59.6 percent shooting to the Pilots (34-of-57).
Damonte Lowery took over the final scoring lead with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Darrick Scott and Brooks both also scored 16 points. Scott earned a team-best seven rebounds in the contest as well.
Individually, Brooks recorded his 1,000th-career point as a member of the Crimson Wave early in the second half on a jumper with 17:17 left in the game, just another one of the numerous achievements made this season by CCSJ.
"I don't think it has 100 percent sunk in exactly what we were able to accomplish this season; I mean, you're trying to win the next game," Sexson said. "As a coach, I haven't really had the chance to kind of exhale and say, 'Look what we did this year.' I'm sure I'll have time to do that in the next couple weeks.
"We lose a lot of seniors, but we do return three starters. We gotta learn from it because it's our first time out here, we gained that experience, and hopefully we can make this an annual thing coming out to Branson in the future. We really appreciate the support of the Athletic Department and our student body for really filling out those stands in some really big games and we really appreciate it."
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