Bulldogs' run ends in second round of NAIA National Championship Tournament

Published on
March 13, 2015

Union finishes season with a 30-5 recordPOINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - Embry-Riddle's Dalton Barnes scored a game-high 21 points, as the No. 2 Eagles pulled away late in the second half past the No. 15 Union College men's basketball in an 89-75 win in the Second Round of the 2015 NAIA Division II National Championship in Keeter Gymnasium.

With the loss, the Bulldogs end their 2014-15 season with a program-best 30-5 overall mark. Embry-Riddle improved to 34-1 win the win, and move onto the Quarterfinals of the Tournament in the process. 

"Coming in, I thought there was a chance that the winner of this game could end up the eventual National Champion, if not in the National Championship game," said head coach Kevin Burton. "[Embry-Riddle] did a really efficient job and probably had their best offensive game of the season. If they got daylight on a open look, they made it. 

"Offensively, I thought we were OK today, and I thought defensively we were OK, too. But, we would have one breakdown on defense and they would drive the ball past us and get open shots. That was the key today." 

The first half of the ballgame was an entertaining one for the fans in attendance, as both teams consistently scored the basketball. 

In the first seven minutes, the game was tied on four separate occasions, but Embry-Riddle put some distance between themselves and Union after a big 7-0 rally over a two-minute span to go up 19-12 with 12 minutes left. 

The Eagles were able to keep the lead the rest of the period after this juncture, but it wasn't like Union went away in the half quietly, as they pushed ERAU the entire period.  

Down nine with five minutes to go at 36-27, the Bulldogs went on a quick 7-0 spurt of their own to cut the Eagle lead down to 36-34 with four minutes left. After another ERAU run extended the lead back out to five points (44-39) with two minutes left, but a Gerrard Newby (SO/Lexington, Ky. ) lay-up with 20 seconds to go in the period cut the Eagle lead all the way down to three points at 44-41. 

But, Embry-Riddle answered the basket to end the period, as a three at the buzzer gave the Eagles a 47-41 lead going into the break for intermission. 

The first nine minutes of the second half very similar to the first half, in which Union consistently made runs at the ERAU lead, only to see the Eagles punch back with a basket of their own to extinguish the threat. 

Things finally came to a head with 12:42 left, as the Bulldogs cut the ERAU lead all the way down to two points at 54-52. This was the closest Union came the lead the rest of the game, as the Eagles went on a back-breaking 11-2 run over the next three minutes to take their biggest lead of the day at 65-55. 

Once Union got down by double-figures, they could not get back into the game, as the Eagles rolled down the final minutes of the game, taking a 14-point win from the Bulldogs. 

Overall, guard JD Tucker (JR/Charleston, S.C.) led the way for Union scoring 15 points on the afternoon. Dominique Hagans (SR/Lexington, Ky.) finished his short career at Union with 13 points, while Fitzgerald White (SR/Miami, Fla. ) (also playing his last game as a Bulldog) and Newby ended with 12 points, apiece. Newby also pulled down eight rebounds in the defeat. 

In the loss, the Bulldogs could not overcome a great shooting day by the Eagles, who ended the afternoon shooting 62 percent from the floor. ERAU also made 10 three pointers (seven in the first half), and knocked down 17 total free throws, as well.