POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. --
The Union College men's basketball team's 2010-11 season ended on Wednesday afternoon, as No. 1 Walsh used a dominating second half performance to beat the Bulldogs, 81-59 in first round action at the 2011 NAIA Men's Basketball Division II National Basketball Tournament held in Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of the College of the Ozarks.
With the loss, Union ends their season at 16-16 overall, while Walsh improves to 30-1 on the year. The Cavaliers advance to the second round of the tournament, which will begin on Friday.
"I thought we really showed our inexperience in playing [in the National Tournament] in the second half," head coach Sean Gillespie
said. "We really got away from what we were doing successfully in the first half. I thought we took good shots, we just couldn't knock them down."
In the first half, the Cavaliers came out of the gates on fire, opening up a quick 5-0 lead in the game's first two minutes.
Union, however, held off the initial offensive surge by the Cavs and stayed within striking distance the majority of the half, despite falling behind by 10 (22-12) with seven and a half minutes left. The Bulldogs ended the half particularly strong, as Ryan Young
drained a jumper in the lane to make it 33-29 in favor of Walsh going into the intermission.
In the first stanza, Stuart Stamper
led Union scoring nine points, while Ian Davis
chipped in with eight points. L.J. Sutton led Walsh in the first 20-minutes with seven points.
In the beginning of the second period, Walsh once again started a half of basketball on a roll, opening up a 42-33 lead in the first four minutes of the period. Walsh continued to play well in the proceeding minutes, as the opened up their biggest lead of the afternoon at 48-34 after Lamar Skeeter converted on a four-point play, sinking a three while getting fouled, then making a free throw.
This lead was too much for Union to comeback from, as the closest the Bulldogs got to the Cavs lead the rest of the afternoon was 11 points. Walsh eventually pulled away from the Bulldogs, opening up a 77-53 lead with three minutes left. Walsh was dominate in the second period, as they outscored Union 48-30 in the last 20 minutes to take the 22-point victory.
Overall on the game, Stamper led the way for Union, ending with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor. Turrell Morris
, the 2011 Co-AAC Player of the Year, ended with 10 points and 11 rebounds, to record his 17th double-double of the season. For Walsh, Skeeter led five double-digit Cavalier scorers on the afternoon, with 28 points, 23 of which came in the second frame.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs still accomplished many things on the season.
Today's appearance in the NAIA National Tournament marked the first time since 1968 that a Union College men's squad took the floor at a NAIA National Championship. The team also won their first conference title since 1972 last week, which qualified them for a spot in the tournament.
"I told the guys afterward to keep their heads up," said Gillespie. "I also told the guys we have coming back next year to remember the fact that they enjoyed this trip and that we want to be back next year. It's just a stepping stone, it's a process. We got over one hurdle this year that we hadn't gotten over in a long time.
"We're already excited about next year."