Hustlin' Owls Upset in "Sweet 16"
Oregon Tech's Joseph Foster
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — Oregon Tech picked a bad time to go cold. In perhaps its poorest shooting performance in several years, OIT made just 30 percent of its shots in a 75-67 loss to the University of Saint Francis of Indiana in the second round of the NAIA Division II men’s national basketball tournament.
“There are no excuses,” OIT junior Joseph Foster said. “You are supposed to put the ball in the basket, and we didn’t do it. The ball was in and out. We had some tough breaks.”
OIT had just one run where shots fell, and that came during a rally in which the Hustlin’ Owls rallied from a 46-31 deficit to take a
54-53 lead on a Mike Nieraeth field goal.
The Owls would expand their lead to 58-53 with six minutes left to play, but would make just one more field goal in the game, a three- point shot by Foster. All of OIT’s other points were free throws.
One of the better free-throw shooting teams in the country, OIT did nail 25-of-29 charity tosses in the game, an effort that kept almost 100 boisterous Owl fans on their feet, cheering and hoping for another miracle comeback.
“They made the shots on the perimeter, and knocked down some big shots,” Foster said of the No. 15 seed. The Cougars were 9-for-20 from three-point range in a game in which they shot 45 percent from the floor.
“We have to credit their defense, but we had the looks we wanted and the ball didn’t drop,” Foster said.
Second-seeded OIT did a brilliant job in slowing USF’s DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis, who had scored 43 points in his team’s first-round win over Black Hills State. It was the fifth highest single-game individual scoring performance in the 19-year history of the tournament.
Qadr Owens, Ethan Hussey and Kevin Bloom picked up the slack, and made seven of the Cougars’ nine three-point field goals.
“We feel we’re a good three-point shooting team, and were surprised at how many open looks we had,” Owens said after USF upped its season record to 24-9. “The shots fell today.
“We know that when teams come in against Sawyer-Davis, we have to step up, and I was able to do that (Friday),” he said.
Owens led the Cougars with 22 points, while Sawyer-Davis finished with 14, Bloom 10 and Hussey nine in the game in which USF was outrebounded, committed more fouls and turned the ball over more than did OIT.
OIT just consistently missed shots it has made all season.
Justin Parnell finished with 25 points for the Hustlin’ Owls, who saw their season come to an end with a 30-4 record after having reached their record 12th Sweet Sixteen in the national tournament.
Foster added 19 points.
Parnell pulled down nine rebounds, and Myles Daley eight, while Nieraeth had four steals. All were game highs.
“That’s a good team. There’s no doubt about that,” Owens said.
“They’ll be back.”
“It’s sad to end like this, but we have to keep our heads high,”
Foster said of an OIT team than won 30 games for the seventh time in school history.
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