Grayson, KY- Berea finished the home portion of their regular season schedule this past Saturday with a 96-91 win against Midway University. Today, after learning on Monday they were the #3 seed in the upcoming 2017 USCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship Tournament, the Mountaineers went on the road to play their final regular season game. The conclusion of the regular season came against the Kentucky Christian Knights.
Richard Parker opened the game with two field goals, giving Berea a 4-2 lead in the first few minutes. Seven straight points from the Knights put the Mountaineers behind 9-4 as 15:44 ticked off the clock. As the scored moved to 13-10 in favor of Kentucky Christian, Terique Miller's three-point basket off a pass from Corey Wise tied the game at 13. Berea took a brief 15-13 lead off of Nick McCollum's free throws before a three-point basket from the Knights gave them the lead back. McCollum responded with a three-pointer of his own to give the Mountaineers an 18-16 advantage with 11:36 remaining in the first half. Trailing 23-20, Berea scored eight straight points from three-point jump shots from Stephen Butts and Miller to go along with Parker's jumper, making the score 28-23. The lead disappeared as Kentucky Christian came back and tied the game 28-28 with 7:14 remaining.
The tie was broken by the Mountaineers via Gabe Hinton before a three-point basket from the Knights pushed them back ahead 31-30. McCollum's three-point jump shot gave the advantage back to Berea before a basket by Kentucky Christian tied the game once again at 33 with 4:55 until halftime. Over the next 1:26, the lead changed five times, with the final change going in favor of the Mountaineers off of McCollum's third three-pointer of the half, making the score 39-37. Trailing 41-39 after four straight points from the Knights, back-to-back three-point baskets from Parker and Butts' sparked an 11-3 scoring run which gave Berea a 50-44 advantage as the teams headed to halftime.
Dyonta Bizzle-Brown got in on the scoring action with his bucket in the second half which gave the Mountaineers a 52-45 advantage as the second half opened. The seven point lead for Berea dwindled to three as Kentucky Christian scored four straight points to make the score 52-49. Three straight points from Parker ended the Knights' scoring rally and the Mountaineers saw themselves move ahead by eight, 60-52, off of Wise's three-point jump shot. Kentucky Christian came back within two points of the lead after scoring six straight points before Parker's three-pointer gave Berea a five point cushion. The five point cushion moved to a nine point lead when Anthony Myrks-Brewer scored four points, making the score 67-58. With 8:17 remaining in the game, the score became tied off of a Knights 11-2 scoring run, tying the game 69-69. McCollum's field goal broke the tie before the game became tied again, this time being broken by Wise's three-point shot, giving the Mountaineers a three point lead, 74-71.
After another tie, Wise and Parker combined for five consecutive points to move Berea ahead 79-74 with 4:24 until the final buzzer. Kentucky Christian took the lead back with 2:19 left before an offensive rebound by Hinton allowed Myrks-Brewer to make a field goal, giving the Mountaineers a 83-82 with 1:27 remaining in the game. With 13 seconds remaining in the contest, the Knights took a 86-85 lead off a made field goal before Parker raced down the court and jump stopped just inside the three-point line and made a clutch jumper to give Berea a 87-86 lead with 8.2 seconds remaining. On the Knights final possession, the ref called a foul which resulted in free throws for the home team, splitting the pair to make the score tied at 87 with 1.4 remaining. A half court heave by the Mountaineers would not fall, sending the game to an extra period. Berea remained close to Kentucky Christian in the overtime period before a 13-4 run by the home team gave the Knights a 102-92 win.
Parker's 29 points led the way for the Mountaineers on the offensive end while finishing with three assists and four steals. Wise finished with 19 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists. McCollum (14 points) and Miller, who finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, were the other players to finish in double-digits. Hinton was the team leader in rebounds with 12, including five offensive rebounds.
#3 Berea (16-9) begins the march towards a USCAA National Championship on March 1st, traveling to Uniontown, PA to play their opening round game against the #6 seed Florida National University. All the action and information, including the bracket, can be found at http://basketball.theuscaa.com/landing/index.