Sailfish Unable to Knock Off #1-Seeded King College in NCCAA First Round

Written By: Michael Brown, PBA Sports Information Director

Matt Gierl (Pictured) Scored a Career-High 14 Points on Thursday Evening in the First Round of the 2010 NCCAA National Tournament. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards. Matt Gierl (Pictured) Scored a Career-High 14 Points on Thursday Evening in the First Round of the 2010 NCCAA National Tournament. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards.

Box Score

OAKLAND CITY, Ind.- Despite a solid first-half and a strong shooting effort by their bench, the #8-seeded Palm Beach Atlantic University men’s basketball team was unable to take down #1-seeded King College (Tenn.) on Thursday evening in the first round of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Tournament. The Sailfish dropped the contest 72-59 on the campus of Oakland City University in Indiana.

Up against a tough task of defeating a King College team that was entering tournament play with an impressive 24-5 record and the number one seed, the Sailfish appeared up for the challenge through the first 16 or so minutes of the contest as they jumped out to a 32-20 lead with less than four minutes to play in the first-half. That double-digit lead would close quickly however as the Tornadoes closed out the half on a 12-2 run to go into the lockeroom trailing only 34-32 to the upset-minded Sailfish (5-24).

PBA connected on 5-of-13 shots from long-range in the first-half while managing an overall 48% (13-27) shooting mark in the first stanza. King would be limited to a 45% (14-31) overall shooting performance in the opening half with just 2-of-9 three-pointers going down.

After their solid run to close out the first-half, the Tornadoes quickly jumped out of the gate in the second-half as they overtook the Fish at the 17:02 mark to play in the first-half that netted Stephen Kite two points and a lead for KC that they would never relinquish.

PBA would keep the contest close throughout most of the second-half even drawing to within one point with 10:22 to play as freshman forward Trent Stokes added a basket to put the Sailfish down just one at 46-45. That close margin would be short-lived however as Elisha Murray’s jumper with 6:51 remaining gave the Tornadoes their first double-digit lead of the night as they pushed ahead 58-47.

The King lead would grow to as many as 19 points down the stretch before a few late PBA three-point shots drew the Sailfish a bit closer only to drop the opener by the final tally of 72-59.

Freshman Matthew Gierl led the Sailfish efforts off the bench with a career-high 14 points on 5-of-9 from the field including 4-8 from three-point range. The Annapolis, Maryland native has come on strong towards the end of the season after helping lead the team to the NCCAA South Region title with his strong play from the outside a few weeks ago.

PBA season leading scorer Hunter Ross was the only other Sailfish player to reach double-figures on Thursday as he finished with 10 points while adding in six rebounds.

KC was led by four players in double-figures as the balanced attack was paced by Kite, Murray, and Clarence Smith all finishing with 12 points while Craig McCargo added in 11 points. Jason Seymore chipped in seven points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

While the Sailfish are out of the running for the 2010 NCCAA championship crown, they will still have two games to play at OCU this weekend. The Sailfish will take on the loser of Grace College and Oakland City University at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 19th.

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