By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
Both WVU Tech basketball teams advanced to the championship round of the Association of Independent Institutions tournament Saturday night, but they arrived in different fashion.
Powered by senior Terrale Clark, the Golden Bear men rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to post a thrilling 74-70 victory over Robert Morris (Ill.) College in the last semifinal of the evening.
Earlier, the Tech women had built up 14-point leads three times in the second half, but had to withstand a late Voorhees College charge to escape with a 60-57 victory in the second women’s semifinal.
In the earlier semifinals, the No. 1 men’s seed, Cal State-San Marcos, suffered an 80-66 setback at the hands of Voorhees and, in the other women’s semifinal, Robert Morris slipped by Cal State-San Marcos 65-62.
Today’s women’s championship at the Neal Baisi Athletic Center will tip at noon pitting host Tech versus Robert Morris, followed by the men’s title game featuring Tech and Voorhees at 3 p.m. At berth are spots in the NAIA national tournament.
In the men’s game, Clark buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Tech a 58-55 lead with 6:00 to go, then later drilled another trey, this one from the left corner, that gave the Golden Bears a 69-63 margin with 49.6 seconds remaining.
Clark then hit two free throws 13 seconds later to make it 71-65 before Robert Morris pulled to within two, 72-70, on a bucket by Aubrey McAlpine with 12.7 seconds left.
The Bears got a free throw from David Rawlinson to go up 73-70, then McAlpine misfired on a 3-point attempt with 2.5 seconds to go that would have tied the contest.
Eddie Gordon then closed out the game for Tech with a free throw with 1.8 seconds to go to leave the final score 74-70.
Rawlinson finished with 18 points and seven assists to lead Tech, while Clark scored 17.
Sean Montgomery led Robert Morris with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
“That was an unbelievable gut-check win,” said Tech coach Bob Williams. “Terrale Clark played unbelievable in the last 10 minutes. I’m real proud of him. Our guys just fought and didn’t give up.”
Earlier, the Tech women scored 11 of the first 13 points of the second half to gain control of their game with Voorhees. The Tigers, however, rallied and used a 9-0 spurt to pull to within 59-54 with 1:12 to go. A 3-pointer by Daiveena Kemp, with 11.9 seconds left, whittled the deficit even further, to 60-57, but the Tigers missed a potential tying three-pointer with two seconds left and Tech advanced.
“It was a little closer than we wanted,” said Tech coach Jenna Everhart. “We’re glad we were able to hold on and live to fight another day.
“We were scoring in spurts,” she added. “We had a bunch of dead time. Give a lot of credit to Voorhees; they attacked.”
Amber Tully’s 15 points and 11 rebounds paced a balanced Tech attack. Nia Nolan (seven assists) and Amy Gardner had 11 points each while teammate Courtney Sturdivant chipped in nine points.
Kierra Patterson led Voorhees with 12 points.
In the first men’s semifinal Saturday, Voorhees led Cal State 40-32 at halftime and kept the Cougars at bay in the second 20-minute segment for the upset.
Jeffrey Evans scored 29 points and Brandon Allen had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Voorhees.
Cal State-San Marcos got 11 points from three different players: Bryan Emanuel, Jose Rivera and A.J. Gasporra.
Danish Cole bucketed 18 points to pace Robert Morris in the first women’s semifinal.
Danielle Cooper led Cal State-San Marcos with 14 points.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org