Blazers Reach NCCAA Final Four with 91-69 Win Over Trinity
SPRINGFIELD, MO - The OCU men's basketball team reached a milestone on Thursday evening in a 91-69 victory over Trinity from North Dakota. Trinity entered that game as the champions of the North Central Region and would give the Mid-East Region champs from Circleville a close game in the first 20 minutes. Trinity had advanced to the quarterfinal round after a round 1 win over Grace University on Tuesday night.
The Blazers fought through a 13 day layover between games in the first half, knocking the rust off as OCU battled turnovers and pesky Trinity defenders for the first 20 minutes. Trinity used a zone defense and a full court press early on to keep the game close. A pair of three pointers by Anthony McDaniel gave OCU an emotional boost before the end of the half, as OCU held a slim lead at 32-30.
OCU made offensive adjustments at halftime and decided to spread the floor against the Trinity zone. The space forced Trinity to cover more ground and let to more open shots for the Trailblazers. Tirrell Cumberland took full advantage as he took control of the game with marksman type accuracy, connecting on a season high 8 three point baskets. Cumberland hit 4 straight at one point before getting fouled on his 5th shot from long range. The Blazers pushed the lead to as many as 24 points before going on to win 91-69.
OCU had big contributions off the bench including Anthony McDaniel who scored 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting. James Nelson and Josh Delph both tossed in 9 points. Tirrell Cumberland had a game high 28 points on 8 of 12 shooting from downtown. Mo Fall tallied 26 points and 10 boards in the win. Kenny Cooper grabbed 9 rebounds for the Blazers while Wesley Russell dished out a game high 10 assists.
The win advances the Blazers to their first ever Final Four appearance in the NCCAA Tournament. No previous OCU team has ever adavanced past the Elite 8 round. OCU will now prepare to face Grace Bible College on Friday evening. The game is set for a 7pm tip EST. Ohio Christian is now 26-9 on the season and has won an amzing 12 games in a row. The team has not lost a game since January.
photos by Tempest Norris