Rochester College holds off Ave Marie to advance to USCAA national title game | North Oakland Sports
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Rochester College holds off Ave Marie to advance to USCAA national title game

| March 9, 2012 | Comments (2)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter:@LocalSportsFans

 

UNIONTOWN, Pa. — New coach, same result. Rochester College is still a national powerhouse.

Klint Pleasant-led Rochester College, the top seed in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, advanced Friday morning to the championship game with a 62-57 victory over Ave Marie in the national semifinals at Penn State-Fayette.

The Warriors (26-8) will play in the national title game at 9 p.m. March 10 against Oakwood in Penn State-Fayette’s main field house.

“What a great game,” said Pleasant, who took over the reigns last March following the Warriors’ stay in the USCAA tournament. “It was a great atmosphere and it was a great college basketball game going down to the wire. It was close the whole way and we’re fortunate enough to pull this one out.”

 

POWER TOWER: Rochester College senior center Ricky Doran and the Warriors advanced to the USCAA national championship game Friday with a 62-57 victory over Ave Marie. Photo | Larry McKee, www.lmckeephotography.com

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Senior forward Dramell Hogan (Walled Lake Western) sank two free throws with 3.0 seconds left that sealed the win and sent the Warriors into the national title game for the first time since 2009, when RC finished as the national runner-up. Hogan rebounded a missed three-pointer and was quickly fouled, giving him a chance to clinch the contest.

Hogan, Stephan Henning (Rochester High) and Brad Norman (Kalkaska) all hit threes in the final 10 minutes for Rochester College to help keep Ave Marie at bay.

The Warriors have won four overall national championships dating back to the 1980s under former coach Garth Pleasant and hope to come home with its fifth under Klint Pleasant.

“That would be nice, but we have our work cut out for us,” admitted Pleasant. “Oakwood is a perennial powerhouse team that seems to be here every year. They are not to the national tournament. They are a very talented basketball team, very big, physical and fast. They can play you in multiple different ways. They can play uptempo, slow the pace down, play a half-court game. It’s going to be a long night preparing for them.”

Rochester College last played Oakwood in the national semifinals in 2009, when Henning hit a three-pointer at the final buzzer to send the Warriors into the national title game.

Rochester College had to worry about Ave Marie, a small college located near Naples, Fla., first before entertaining thoughts about Saturday’s championship game. Ave Marie led 6-0 early, but the Warriors took the lead five minutes into the contest and held on for the duration.

Hogan, named a first-team All-America by the USCAA the day before, finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Fellow All-American Ricky Doran (Clinton Township Chippewa Valley) added 18 points and 11 rebounds, including seven offensive boards for Rochester College, which finished fifth in the nation last season.

Doran’s three-point play gave Rochester College its largest lead of the game at 60-50 with 5:59 left before the Ave Marie staged a comeback. Matt Chattin, Kiel Lewis and Dylan Fugate combined for 15 of the Gyrenes’ final 17 points in the surge.

A three-pointer by Fugate with 17 seconds left brought Ave Marie to within 50-57 before Hogan’s two free-throws sealed victory. Chattin finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals to pace the Gyrenes, while Lewis and Fugate tossed in 13 points apiece for Ave Marie.

“They did a nice job coming back on us, hitting some shots,” said Pleasant. “We made our free throws when it counts.”

Rochester College held a 28-25 lead at the half. The Warriors outscored the Gyrenes 20-7 in second-chance points in the first half, dominating the offensive glass.

Norman added 14 points and four assists for Rochester College, while Henning, named honorable-mention All-America by the USCAA, contributed 12 points, 11 points in the first half, with four assists for the Warriors.

“I am hoping that we continue to hit some shots and play well. We’ve been playing with a lot of confidence the past couple of months,” added Pleasant, whose team is 16-1 in its last 17 games. “We’re expecting a great battle Saturday night.”

Ave Marie will play at 9:45 a.m. Saturday in the USCAA third-place game against Apprentice. All of the consolation games and national championship games in both the women’s and men’s brackets for Division I and Division II will take place in a marathon Saturday.

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* Have photos or video of this event that you wish to share? E-mail pertinent information to www.northoaklandsports.com Senior Editor Dan Stickradt at dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com or e-mail results@northoaklandsports.com

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Category: Campus Clips, Colleges / Other, Rochester College

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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