|Lenoir-Rhyne Eliminates Virginia Union, 76-68|
|Web Posted 3/15/08|
|(View PDF Release)|
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Lenoir-Rhyne’s Josh Rudder tallied 22 points as the Bears earned their first NCAA Tournament win with a 76-68 victory over Virginia Union Saturday night in the fourth quarterfinal game of the 2008 NCAA South Atlantic Regional in Christenberry Fieldhouse.
With the victory, LR improved to 23-6 and will face No. 8 seed Clayton State. The Lakers -- the Peach Belt Conference Tournament champions -- stunned top-seeded USC Aiken 60-58 for the second time in six days. The loss ended the Panthers’ season at 22-8 overall.
Reggie Bratton and Elliott McDowell booked 14 and 12, points respectively for the Bears, who jumped out to a 13-6 advantage in the first five minutes of the game and never trailed.
All-South Atlantic Region first-team selection Brad Byerson notched a game-high 25 points and added seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks for Virginia Union. Gregg Thondique added 15 points off the bench for the Panthers.
VU actually outshot the Bears, but connected on just 1-of-10 3-point attempts. Lenoir-Rhyne ended the first half on an 11-2 run over the final 5:15 to take a 34-25 halftime lead.
LR increased its advantage to 11 on the first basket of the second half before VU responded with an 8-0 run to get within three at the 17:26 mark. The Panthers cut their deficit to three on four other occasions, but never got any closer the rest of the way.
No. 5 Lenoir-Rhyne d. No. 4 Virginia Union, 76-68 (BOX SCORE)
Lenoir-Rhyne Head Coach John Lentz
“Both teams played hard, but we made some clutch shots in the second half and made our free throws when we were suppose to. That was a big difference.”
“We’ve been pretty poised all season long. Our perimeter players have done a good job keeping us under control all year long, and our kids believed in ourselves.”
“We’re not very good at one-pass, two-pass and a jump shot. We are an inside-outside team that likes to go five passes or more in the offense. When you do that, it wears people down and they lose their concentration.”
(On playing Clayton State in the semifinals): “They will play pressure defense, so we will need to try and handle their pressure. We’ll battle, whether that’s enough, I don’t know.”
Lenoir-Rhyne’s Josh Rudder
“They are a great team and they’ve been here before. We knew they would make a run, but we’ve been in close games before. We just had to keep our composure and work it inside.”
Virginia Union Head Coach Dave Robbins
“Obviously, we’re disappointed we didn’t win, but Lenoir-Rhyne has a heck of a team. They were hitting on all cylinders. Brad and Greg played well, but we just didn’t get much play out of our guards. We played hard, had a chance to win, but in the end, they were just a little smarter.”
“We gambled when they hit that late 3-point basket. One of our rules is when you are on the shooter, you never leave your man and go trap. We had a sub that left his man and went to go trap a player that wasn’t a scorer. That just broke our backs.”
“We’ve had a good season and we are not going to hang our heads.”
Virginia Union’s Greg Redford
“We had to buckle down on defense. That’s what it was - defense.”
Virginia Union’s Brad Byerson
“I knew they would double on me in the post. On that as a post player, you have to make your moves quick. When they did get it set, I was able to get more of my teammates open and get them in the game. They play good defense, but I was prepared for it.”