BY DAN STICKRADT
UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Austin Doggette found the opportune time to become red hot from beyond the arc.
The senior guard for Oakwood University was 6-of-11 from three-point range, including two late threes inside the final two minutes, as the seventh-seeded Ambassadors stunned top-seeded Rochester College, 54-51, late Saturday night to win the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament national championship at Penn State-Fayette.
“That kid (Doggette) was huge for them,” sighed Rochester College coach Klint Pleasant, whose team finished 26-9 in his first season, with five of those losses coming against NCAA Division I schools, two against Division II schools, one against a Division III school and one against a NAIA school. “In a close game, he steps out and hits two NBA-range three-pointers that essentially wins the game for them.”
Doggette earned Tournament MVP honors for Oakwood, which shots 41 percent from outside the arc in the contest. Doggette, who finished with 21 points, broke a 49-49 tie with a three-pointer that put his team up for good.
Rochester College shot 32.7 percent (16-for-49) in the contest, and made only 23 percent of their field goals in the second half. The Warriors top two shooters, Brad Norman and Sean Mattia, finished a combined 3-for-14 from three-point land in the game, as Rochester College had one of its worst shooting nights of its stellar season.
“I think it went down to making shots and turnovers,” offered Pleasant. “It was just one of those games. Oakwood did a nice job of pressuring the ball and we turned the ball over at the wrong times and we couldn’t make shots. We missed a lot of threes and Oakwood hit a couple of clutch threes.
“I was telling one of my assistants, that if we made more three and they missed one of those three, we’re national champs. It was that close,” added Pleasant. “But that’s basketball. A game sometimes is decided by a play or two and we just came up short. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Rochester College had a chance to tie the game with a late-pointer. Oakwood’s Lenard Bryant missed a pair of three throws with 20 seconds left, although the Ambassadors were able to force a turnover with eight seconds left with the Warriors trying to run a play to get off a three-point shot.
The Warriors shot only 29 percent (6-for-21) from three-point land, and couldn’t pull away despite holding a 29-23 point lead late in the first half.
Dramel Hogan led Rochester College with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Stephan Henning added 16 point and eight assists, and Rick Doran grabbed 10 rebounds for the Warriors, winners of four previous USCAA national championships but grabbed their fourth runner-up trophy, including second in four seasons.
Doran, RC’s 6-foot-8 post player, was held to just two points, while Norman and Mattia combined for just 11 points. The Warriors also received only three points off the bench in the contest, with Zef Deda contributing three free throws.
Wilbur Amprey added 15 points and eight rebounds, while Bryant had a fine floor game with seven points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for Oakwood.
“We lost to a very good team,” admitted Pleasant. “They were very athletic, could shoot the three and they played good defense. But if you told me that our best two shooters would only be a combined 3-for-14 from three-point range and our top post player would only score two points and we would only lose by three points, I would have told you that you are crazy. We still played a good defensive game, holding them to 54 points. We were just a shot of two from winning this game.”
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The seventh-seeded Oakwood Ambassadors have clinched their second USCAA Men’s Division I National Championship, defeating the first-seeded Rochester College Warriors 54-51. The Ambassadors were led by All-American and Tournament MVP Austin Doggette whose three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining broke a 49-49 tie and put Oakwood up for good. Doggette scored 21 points (6-11 from three). Wilbur Ampey added 15 points and Ronnie Clark tallied 10 assists for the Ambassadors, winners of the 2008 USCAA Men’s Division I National Championship
On the strength of Doggette’s six three point field goals, Oakwood shot 47 percent from three and 41 percent overall for the game.
The Warriors had a chance to tie the game after Lenard Bryant missed two free throws with 20 seconds remaining, but on the ensuing Rochester possession Bryant stole the ball from Henning to seal the victory. Congratulations to the Oakwood Ambassadors!
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