Xavier Collier hit two free throws with 3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then scored five of Benedict’s nine points in the extra period to lift sixth-seeded Benedict to a 68-65 overtime victory over No. 3 seed Eckerd College on Saturday.
Benedict advances to the second round of the Division II tournament for the first time since 2008. The Tigers (24-6) will face second-seeded Alabama-Huntsville today at 5 p.m. Alabama-Huntsville edged No. 7 seed Christian Brothers, 60-58.
Marcus Goode led Benedict with 23 points — 16 in the second half — and added 17 rebounds and six blocks. Collier finished with 15 points and six assists.
“Eckerd is a really good team, and they had a good game plan for us. And we struggled a little bit early trying to figure out what they were doing against us defensively,” Benedict coach Fred Watson said. “After halftime, we were able to make some adjustments.
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“We got ourselves in overtime, and I just got out of the way. I told the guys, ‘Let’s go win the game.’ And I just got out of the way.”
The Tigers led 47-40 with 6:22 to play, but the Tritons (20-8) tied the game at 53 with 1:59 left to play and led 59-57 after Walade Wade hit one of two free throws with 18 seconds remaining.
Collier ran the clock down on the next possession, drew the foul on a drive and sank both free throws to send the game into overtime.
When asked what he was thinking at the line, Collier said: “Make the free throws and send it into overtime. And we’ll handle it from there.”
A three-point play by Collier and a layup from Lamar Adkins gave Benedict the early lead in overtime, but Eckerd All-America forward Darrien Mack tallied back-to-back baskets to give the Tritons a 65-64 lead with 1:29 to play. Adkins put the Tigers ahead with a jumper before Brennan Reynard made a steal with eight seconds left. Collier sank two more free throws with 4 seconds to go to clinch the win.
Mack led the Tritons with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Both teams struggled shooting in the first half, finishing in the 30 percent range. Benedict turned to its inside game and shot 48 percent after the break. The Tigers struggled from long range, shooting 1-of-14 from 3-point range.
“We normally couldn’t overcome a 1-for-14 night, unless you had a special night from Marcus,” Watson said. “Down the stretch, we had a special night from Marcus. We especially had a special night defensively. We just defended so hard and the guys wanted it so bad, we were able to stay in the game.”