ANGOLA, Ind. – Albion College is returning to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship for the first time since 2005 after eking out a 76-73 victory over Trine University in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship game at the MTI Center.
Jamezell Davis, Jr., an all-MIAA first team pick who was the hero of the Britons semifinal win over Olivet College with 31 points and the game-winning basket, said the Britons pocketed the championship win by weathering the storm.
The Britons started slowly – trailing 10-3 early – but they turned up the defense. ArShawn Parker dove on the floor to finish picking a steal from Ellis Cummings and Quinton Armstrong was tough in the frontcourt, blocking a pair of Myles Copeland shots.
Armstrong and frontcourt mate Caden Ebeling combined to score on three consecutive possessions to power Albion to a 38-32 lead at halftime.
Albion started slowly in the second half, as well, as Cummings threw down a pair of dunks to power Trine on a 7-0 run that erased the Britons' halftime lead.
Trine led by as many as five in the second half, the last time at 64-59 with six minutes to play.
First-year guard Zachary Winston, who had not scored more than seven points in any game this season, ignited Albion's final rally with a 3-point basket to cut the deficit to 64-62. Winston finished with nine points, hitting 2-for-4 from 3-point range.
The teams traded baskets on the next possessions, and then Davis took over. The sophomore guard from Ypsilatni scored eight of his 11 points in the final 3:25.
"The difference was the last five minutes," Davis said. "We stuck to it and made plays down the stretch."
Head Coach Jody May added, "Players make plays in games like this. You can try to practice (late game situations), but it ultimately comes down to guys making plays. Jamezell has proven when the ball is in his hands typically good things happen."
- Armstrong completed his second double-double of the season with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, matching his career-high. He made 10-of-13 shots from the field.
- MJ Barnes had the hot hand in the first half, scoring eight of his 10 points in the first 20 minutes.
- Ebeling was Albion's other double figure scoring with 16. He finished a rebound shy of a double-double.
- Albion is 11-0 in games decided by six points or less this season.
- It is Albion's first MIAA Tournament championship since 1998.
- Albion is now 19-8 on the season, its highest victory total in a season since the 2005-2006 team finished 20-6.
- The victory snapped Albion's seven-game skid against Trine. Prior to tonight, Albion's last victory over Trine was a 74-65 final on Jan. 27, 2016.
- The NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship selection show will be streamed at www.ncaa.com Monday at 12:30 p.m.