CHARLESTON, IL -- With :47 left on the clock senior Drew Maynard (Lake Orion/Valdosta State) scored on a layup to put the Rochester College Warriors ahead of NCAA DI Eastern Illinois (2-4). The Warriors silenced the Panther's home crowd by earning their 9th win of the season with a 58-56 win.
The Panthers entered the final contest of the "Ice Man Classic" with two big wins over IPFW and the University of Texas Pan American while the Warriors came off of a big NAIA win against Bethel College.
The Warriors opened the game with two Maynard free throws less than :30 in. Less than 4:00 later, junior Stavros Schizas (Athens, Greece/Kirtland CC) hit a three-pointer to put the Warriors ahead 7-4.
The Panthers would take a 4-point lead with 12 to go in the half, but the Warriors would tie the game when junior AJ Burton (Brown City, MI/Brown City) connected on a deep three assisted by Maynard.
At the end of the first half, the Warriors were ahead 29-25 after going on a 7-2 run.
The second half started out with some fire from beyond the three-point arc from senior Brad Norman (Bay City, MI/Delta CC) with Maynard earning the assist. Senior Dramel Hogan (Detroit, MI/Walled Lake Western) followed with a jumper to put the Warriors ahead 34-25.
Eastern Illinois would not score their first basket of the second half until the 17:48 mark on a fast break lay in.
The Panthers made a run of their own pulling within 5 before the media timeout.
Schizas would kill any Panther momentum by knocking down a three-pointer assisted by freshmanMatt Gold (Detroit, MI/Loyola).
The Panthers trailed the second half until matching the Warriors 52-52 on two free throws. The teams would go on to exchange blows the remainder of the game highlighted by two solid offensive possessions by the Warriors. Hogan hit a jumper to put the Warriors ahead by 2 and Maynard followed with a lay-up to increase the lead to 4.
The Panthers did not die pulling within 2 with 10 ticks left on the clock. Hogan was fouled on the next Warrior possession, hit his first free-throw but missed his second. The Panthers would get the defensive rebound but miss their final attempt to tie on a long three point attempt boosting the Warrior's record to 9-3 and likely notching the #1 ranking in the Nation USCAA in what is arguably the programs biggest upset win.
Hogan paced the Warriors offense scoring 17 points. He would also grab 5 defensive rebounds and block 3 Panther shots. Maynard, who earned "Ice Man Classic" All Tournament team honors scored 15 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Schizas knocked down 17 points of his own and grabbed 4 rebounds to round out the Warrior leaders.
As a team the Warriors shot 44% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line.
The Panthers shot 36% from the field and 47% from the free-throw line.
"I'm so incredibly proud of our players, our program and our school," said Head Coach Klint Pleasant. "Our guys played so hard and had nothing left after the game. I'm so grateful for their effort. We have a great group of guys and they gave so much back to the program and school today. As a coach, all you can ask for is effort and attitude. Our guys really shined in those categories and secured the biggest win in our programs history. I'm proud of our players and all the players and coaches who have helped pave the way. It was a great win."
The Warriors return to action on Monday, Nov. 26 against Great Lakes Christian College at home (RHS). Tip-off is at 6pm.
Story courtesy Jordan Ackerman, Rochester College