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SEMO Conference Tournament: Notre Dame uses late surge to down Charleston

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Notre Dame's Jacob Tolbert goes up for two of his 21 points while Charleston's Claude Armstrong and Deonte Jones (40) look on Tuesday night in the first round of the SEMO Conference Tournament. Notre Dame won the game 74-67 to advance to the semifinals on Thursday night.
(David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Charleston Bluejays were unable to hold down the No. 3 seeded Notre Dame Bulldogs on Tuesday night at the SEMO Conference tournament as they came away with the 74-67 win.

After taking a late one-point lead, 62-61, in the fourth quarter, the No. 6 seeded Bluejays could only muster three points from a span of the four-and-a-half minute mark and until 48 seconds left to play.

Within that same span, Notre Dame, however, went on a 12-3 run.

"I guess we got tired and couldn't get the ball where we wanted to against their match-up zone," Charleston head coach Danny Farmer said. "Their defense had a lot to do with it but, we couldn't get an open look from the person we wanted to get it from."

Throughout the contest, the Bluejays were receiving generous contributions from senior Deonte Jones and sophomore Gregory Tucker from behind the arc. Both Jones and Tucker hit four 3-pointers apiece. Tucker's last 3-pointer gave the Bluejays their 62-61 lead with over four minutes to go.

Notre Dame head coach Keven Roberts knew they had to key on those two shooters in order to slow down Charleston's stellar shooting.

"We talked about contesting shots," Roberts said, "they are not going to hit everything. Eventually, they are going to hit a lull. You have to find Jones and you have to find Tucker. That's what we really wanted to do. Make sure that they didn't get a quality shot."

That strategy held Tucker to five fourth quarter points and Jones to three. And with Tucker and Jones struggling to find an opening for a shot, Notre Dame's Jacob Tolbert took over in the paint.

"We needed to establish Tolbert," Roberts said. "We wanted to go to him. He's our go-to guy."

Tolbert intercepted a pass and then scored the go-ahead bucket with two-and-a-half minutes left. He added four more points down the stretch to secure the Notre Dame win.

"Right there at the end I think their big guy (Tolbert) made a difference," Farmer said. "He got a few easy buckets and we didn't defend him well in the post."

Tolbert scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. He also pulled down seven rebounds on the night.

"I thought towards the end, it showed the discipline that we have and the toughness that we have to pull out a close victory," said Roberts.

Charleston struggled to find their offensive rhythm out of the gate. But, a late surge towards the end of the of the first half and a 3-pointer by Jones to end the second quarter had the Bluejays tied with the Bulldogs 33-33.

Tucker led Charleston with 20 points while Jones added 18. Akeem Sharp, who also had a hand in the late push, finished with 15.

Tolbert paced the Bulldogs with 21. Liam Maher, who hit three 3-pointers, had 20 while Nick Koeppel added 13 and Matt Helle chipped in with 12.

Charleston will play Cape Central on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the consolation bracket while Notre Dame will face the Poplar Bluff Mules at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday as well for a chance to move into the SEMO Conference final.

Notre Dame16171922--74

CHARLESTON (67) -- Akeem Sharp 15, Maurice Moore 4, Mackenzie Ivy 2, Gregory Tucker 20, Deonte Jones 18, Fabreizio Wright 6, Krushon Scott 2. FG 26 FT 6-10 F 17. (3-pointers: Moore, Tucker 4, Jones 4. Fouled out: none.)

NOTRE DAME (74) -- Nick Koeppel 13, Liam Maher 20, Keke Kellum 2, Luciano Starling 6, Jacob Tolbert 21, Matt Helle 12. FG 28 FT 14-17 F 17. (3-pointers: Maher 3, Tolbert. Fouled out: none.)