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Georgetown College men's basketball team punched its ticket for the 2011 Buffalo Funds NAIA Men's Division I Basketball National Championship quarterfinals Friday afternoon.
The No. 7 Tigers (31-4) last reached this round in 2008 when they went to the Fab Four before losing to Mountain State. GC needed a burst out of the locker room to put a resilient McKendree University (21-13) team away, 77-59.
GC now faces No. 2 Concordia University (31-3) out of California, a team Georgetown has never faced before. Tip is set for 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. EST). It will follow fellow Mid-South Conference team Pikeville College, which will battle No. 1 Robert Morris in the first game of the day at 2 p.m. CST (3 p.m. EST).
CU's three loses are to Portland (Ore.), No. 1 Robert Morris (87-71 on Nov. 13) and No. 13 Biola (73-71 on Feb. 19). The Eagles are on a seven game winning streak. They defeated Southern Poly, 96-64, in the opening round and Evangel, 102-62, in the second to set a first-ever meeting with the Tigers.
Georgetown's Vic Moses got it going with a two on the opening possession of the second half. Rodney Haddix picked off a Bearcat pass near midcourt on the ensuing play and finished the break with a dunk. Maurice Pearson capped off the early explosion with two of his team-high 19 points.
That offensive stint coupled with two strong put backs and a free throw by junior Tyrone Shelley to end the first half, gave the Tigers a 43-33 lead.
"Offensively, we were able to get the ball inside to Vic and Maurice, and they were able to finish," said GC coach Happy Osborne. "I thought Tyrone Shelley, who has been fighting a terrible cold, gave us a lift, and Eddie Gray was solid."
Moses was the only other Tiger in double figures with 16 points. It was balanced throughout the guards as Haddix had eight, while Gray, Shelley and Matt Walls each contributed seven. Aaron Morris came off the bench to spell the posts and dropped six points. Dillon Boggs had three, while Johonne Hamilton and Vincent Crutcher added two each.
Pearson also led the charge on the boards with eight rebounds, while Moses and Shelley each grabbed seven.
After GC's 11-0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the first 1:30 of the second, MU trimmed the deficit under 10 only three times. The closest the Bearcats got was within eight points when they scored their first basket of the second half out of a timeout to end the run. The lead swelled to 22 late in the second half when Hamilton scored his only basket of the day.
However, that was not indicative of the first half. There were six ties and 10 lead changes in the early going.
"We knew coming into today's game that it would be challenging," Osborne said. "Coach (Harry) Statham has won over 1,000 games at McKendree and having only one day to prepare made it difficult."
GC opened on a 4-0 run that MU better with a 7-0 burst. The teams were tied at nine, when the Tigers reeled off 10 unanswered points. David Ruckman and Eric Hobbie got the Bearcats going, eventually taking a 26-25 lead.