Eight teams faced-off on Thursday night to decide who gets to punch their ticket to Indianapolis for the Horizon League semi finals. The top four seeds (Cleveland State, Purdue Fort Wayne, Northern Kentucky and Wright State) will all be playing tonight for a chance to make the championship game, while Robert Morris, Detroit Mercy, UIC and Oakland all head into the offseason.
Ahead of tonight’s semi-final matchups, let’s take a look at how the quarter-finals played out.
#4 Wright State 75-63 #5 Oakland
Although two of Thursday night’s games were snoozers, this was not one of them. This game delivered on many levels. For starters, only nine players scored in this game. To put that into context, Cleveland State had 10 players who scored in their victory over Robert Morris. Oakland had four players who scored the basketball last night and, get this: junior guard, Jalen Moore, gave the Golden Grizzlies their only assist of the night. Furthermore, Oakland shot an abysmal 3-20 (15.0%) from three. On a positive note, Co-Horizon League Player of the Year, Jamal Cain, got his 16th double-double of the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Needless to say, one assist and only four scorers is not going to win you many basketball games.
— Wright State Men’s Basketball (@WSU_MBB) March 7, 2022
Wright State trailed by eight points at halftime and found themselves down by as many as 14 points early in the second half. The Raiders are no stranger to comebacks; they were down big in both of their regular season victories over Oakland, and last night was no different. With 13:20 left in the game, Wright State went on a 20-0 run to give them a seven-point lead with just over 7 and a half minutes left. Junior guard, Tanner Holden, exploded for 27 points and 10 rebounds while Trey Calvin and big-man Grant Basile combined for 34 points and had clutch baskets during Wright State’s 20-0 surge.
#3 Northern Kentucky 77-59 #6 Detroit Mercy
Northern Kentucky grabbed the lead early and never looked back in this one. Detroit could not get much of anything going on offense and were held to 21 points in the first half. Against a tough and disciplined Northern Kentucky defense, Detroit ate up too much clock on their offensive possessions and couldn’t figure out how to play their fast-tempo brand of basketball. Co-Horizon League Player of the Year, Antoine Davis, shot a disappointing 1-7 from three and finished with 17 points, while senior guard, Kevin McAdoo, led the Detroit Mercy Titans in scoring with 19 points.
— NKU Men’s Basketball (@NKUNorseMBB) March 7, 2022
Northern Kentucky’s offense was just as impressive as their defense. They shot 37.5% from three and had 12 second chance points (points scored after an offensive rebound). All-League second team honoree, Marques Warrick, was lethal with the basketball last night, scoring 25 points on 66.7% shooting. Horizon League Freshman of the Year, Sam Vincent, filled out the stat sheet with 9 points, 5 boards, 5 assists and 3 steals. Northern Kentucky will face Purdue Fort Wayne on Monday night, a team that they held to 49 points in their most recent meeting.
#2 Purdue Fort Wayne 78-72 #8 UIC
Purdue Fort Wayne went into halftime with a 13 point lead, and it seemed like their lead was only going to increase in the second half. However, UIC outscored the Mastodons 43-36 in the second half of play and even held a one-point lead with 5:23 remaining. To establish their comeback, the UIC Flames caught fire from three, shooting 41.2% in the second half. Ultimately, the Flames’ comeback was extinguished by crucial stops and big shots coming from Fort Wayne’s senior guards, Damian Chong Qui and Jalon Pipkins.
— Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons Basketball (@MastodonMBB) March 7, 2022
Fort Wayne’s other senior guard, Jarred Godfrey, put up a game-high 22 points and shot 8-9 at the free throw line. A few other notable stats include: Purdue Fort Wayne had 40 points that came from inside the paint, an impressive number for a team that lacks size. They also had 10 steals compared to UIC’s two steals. UIC had nine blocks during this game, while Purdue had zero. The Mastodons are looking to get the same kind of production from their senior guards on Monday night against Northern Kentucky.
#1 Cleveland State, 83-67 #10 Robert Morris
This is another game where the final score isn’t a great reflection of the game. The Robert Morris Colonials went into this game with nothing to lose. Despite being 5-16 in regular season conference play, they were not about to back down from Horizon League’s 1 seed. Down 12 with 2:50 left in the first half, the Colonials cut their deficit in half with a 2-point first-half buzzer beater. RMU was led in scoring by Enoch Cheeks (21 PTS) and Kahliel Spears (15 PTS) who each played 39 and 40 minutes. Despite giving it their all, 18 total turnovers and shooting 23.8% from three led to this team’s downfall.
— @CSU_Basketball (@csu_basketball) March 7, 2022
Cleveland State proved that their last two regular season games were fluke-losses and they are still this year’s favorite to win the Horizon League and get an automatic bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament. Their 48 points in the paint combined with D’Moi Hodge’s 3 three pointers made this offense shine on Thursday night. Torrey Patton led the Vikings in scoring with 25 points and also grabbed 6 rebounds and had 4 assists. Meanwhile, 6’9 senior forward, Deante Johnson, had a near double-double with 9 points and 8 boards.
- #1 Cleveland State vs. #4 Wright State, 6:00 PM (Central Standard Time)
- #2 Purdue Fort Wayne vs. #3 Northern Kentucky, 8:30 PM (CST)
- Horizon League Men’s Championship on Tuesday, March 8th, 6:00 PM (CST)