LAKELAND, Fla. — Marcus Goode finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds, but it was not enough as Alabama-Huntsville knocked Benedict out of the NCAA Division II tournament for the second year in a row with a 64-60 victory on Sunday.
The Tigers had a 59-56 lead with 2:59 left to play after a jumper by Xavier Collier, but the Chargers scored six straight points to pull ahead and advance to the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row.
Last year, the Tigers, an eighth seed, played the top-seeded Chargers close before falling 69-61 in the first round.
Goode also tallied five blocks.
“We played well enough to win,” Benedict coach Fred Watson said. “But all the credit goes to Alabama-Huntsville. They are a good team, and we knew it was going to be an uphill battle and we would have to play flawless basketball. Down the stretch we made some mistakes that we wish we could take back, and they capitalized and they got the win.”
Similar to Saturday’s victory against Eckerd, the Tigers (24-7) again had trouble from the outside, making 2-of-12 3-pointers Sunday.
Lamar Adkins came off the bench to score 15 points, but no other Benedict player scored in double figures.
“This whole tournament, we knew they were going to pack it down to Marcus and our guys were going to have to make shots,” Watson said. “Unfortunately in this tournament, for some reason, went into a slump at the wrong time and couldn’t make open threes.”
The Tigers held Alabama-Huntsville’s All-America guard Jaime Smith to 16 points, but the Chargers received some big baskets from Ronnie Mack, who hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, and Wayne Dedrick, who made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
“We had no answer for the big kid (Goode),” UAH coach Lennie Acuff said. “He’s as good as we’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
The Tigers rallied from a seven-point second-half deficit to take a 59-56 lead on Collier’s jumper with 2:38 remaining.
The Chargers scored on a layup to cut the lead to one, then a turnover by the Tigers led to a three-point play by Smith to give the Chargers a 61-59 lead with 1:54 to play. Another Benedict turnover gave the ball back to the Chargers, who missed two 3-point attempts before the Tigers grabbed the rebound, only to turn it over again. Smith hit two free throws to make it 62-59 with 35 seconds left.
The Tigers pounded the ball inside to Goode, who was fouled and made one free throw to cut the lead to 62-60 with 18 seconds left. Smith grabbed the rebound, but Xavier Collier stole the ball on the baseline before falling out of bounds and giving the ball back to the Chargers.
Benedict was forced to foul, and Smith sank two free throws for the final 64-60 score.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with the score tied five times and there were 14 lead changes. UAH led 28-25 at the half on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dedrick.
The Tigers wrap up their season at 24-7.
Alabama-Huntsville, 25-5, advances to face top-seed Florida Southern in the region championship on Tuesday.