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Carroll men reach NAIA Elite 8 - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Carroll men reach NAIA Elite 8

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KANSAS CITY, MO -

LSU-Alexandria was the top team in the country for five consecutive weeks this season. But in the round of 16 Friday night at the NAIA Division I Men's National Championship, 19th-ranked Carroll rode clutch free throw shooting in the final seconds to shock the No. 2 Generals 66-60 and advance to the quarterfinals.
 
Zach Taylor poured in a game-high 23 points and Ryan Imhoff scored 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Lorel Johnsonscored 10 points, including four free throws in the final seconds to help seal the win.
 
 The Saints advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 where they will face the 23rd-ranked Campbellsville, the sixth-seed from the Liston Bracket.
 
Carroll opened the game with a 5-0 lead after Imhoff hit a three-pointer and grabbed a steal which he dished to Ife Kalejaiye for a bucket. The Generals then went on an 8-0 run to take an 8-5 lead with 14:18 left in the game.
 
LSUA continued to build an extended their advantage to 19-12 with 7:34 left in the fourth half before the Saints went on a 7-0 run to kick start a 19-6 spurt to close out the first half and give Carroll a 31-25 lead at the break.
 
The Generals started the second half with a 7-0 blast to take a 32-31 lead with 18:20 left but Carroll regained its composure and went on a 17-5 run to build a 48-37 lead and would never trail again.
 
LSUA went on 9-1 run to cut it to 49-46 with 7:42 left. The two teams then traded baskets but the Saints couldn't pull away. The best free throw shooting team in the country, the Saints were just 20 of 29 (69 percent) from the line, well below the season average of 78 percent.
 
The Saints did hit from the line when it mattered most.  LSUA cut the Carroll lead to 60-58 but in the final 15 seconds Carroll got to the line three times for six shots and hit on all six, including four by Johnson, to close out the 66-60 win.
 
"I am so happy for Lorel," head coach Carson Cunningham said. "He is such a hard worker. He has so much intensity and pep in his step even though he doesn't look very big he plays big I am really happy for all these guys, they work so hard."
 
The physicality of the game was evident in the shooting percentages. The Saints were 20 of 52 (38.5 percent) the second-worst shooting percentage of the year. The Generals struggled even more, shooting 19 of 60 (31.7 percent) including just 2 of 12 (16.7 percent) from the three-point line.
 
"It was a very physical affair," Cunningham said. "They are a very good basketball team and I am really impressed with our guys, they just battled through it."
 
LSUA outrebounded the Saints 44-38 but grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. Turnovers were a near wash at 17 for the Generals compared to 15 for the Saints.
 
Taylor was 8 of 16 from the field and 4 of 6 from the three-point line.
 
"Zach gave us another monster performance," Cunningham said. "He does so many things for us; he handles the ball so much, he hits huge shots, he opens the court for us because they have to give him so much attention."
 
The Saints face Campbellsville Saturday, the Tigers are 24-10 on the year and were 8-8 in the Mid-South conference. They are mentored by veteran coach Keith Adkins.
 
Dii'jon Allen-Jordan leads CU in points (17.27 PPG), rebounds (9.42 RPG) and steals (1.55 SPG).
 
The Tigers score an average of 84.52 points per game and allow 76.15 points per game.
 
The Saints and Tigers take the floor at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium.

 

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