Was it that big of a victory technically speaking? No.
But, like, seriously? IT WAS UP AGAINST THE WALL against a team from a really great league and really great Region in their HOME CITY.
It feels like a really great victory. And it’s the flippin’ FINAL FOUR and so it was DEFINITELY a great victory.
But seriously: This game was ugly.
For the first 10 or so minutes, Point Loma was in control. Thanks to free throws, Southern Indiana got back in it and it was 31-30 in favor of PLNU going into halftime. The second half had a lot of false senses of security. We’d be biting our nails and then Point Loma would take some breathing room and then we’d go back to biting our nails, and then Point Loma would get some more breathing room. While USI never led, they were never out of it.
It actually felt like a lot like the SMU game, but with worse defense.
We’re starting to be convinced that SMU was like a 70-30 split on great defense to mediocre offense and had they been 60-40, they probably would’ve been in this game instead.
Southern Indiana highlights: Alex Stein had 22 points and seven boards while going 9-11 from the free throw line and shooting well from the field; Kobe Caldwell had 16 points and five boards, plus two steals; Emmanuel Little played really well and had 16 points and nine boards; Matteo River had 10 points and two steals; and off the bench Josh Price had five fouls and two blocks.
Sea Lion highlights: Preston Beverly had 12 points and eight boards among a full house of stats; Josh Rodriguez had 10 points and SEVEN assists while going 6-6 from the line; Tanner Nelson had five fouls; Ziggy had 16 points and eight boards; Daulton had 20 points and five boards while going 5-5 from the line; and off the bench Sterling Somers had nine points on perfect shooting from the field.
Each team had 34 rebounds and USI had 14 turnovers to PLNU’s 11 and… There’s your difference.
The other big difference was Sterling Somers. In a battle of the starters, Sterling was absolutely invaluable. In our opinion as much as the five starters played well (yes: including you Tanner), Sterling was the MVP.
By the time you get to the Elite Eight/Final Four every team has a couple of all-league players, every team has starters and even a bench player or two that would start on every team in their league, every team makes their free throws, every team rebounds, that’s how they’ve made it this far, but… When you go down your bench, how many guys can you truly rely on in the Final Four?
Southern Indiana’s starters scored 64 points with the rest combined providing seven points.
Point Loma’s starters scored 65 points, with Sterling chipping in nine (on perfect shooting) and that right there was the difference. The rest of the bench provided a combined seven points just like Southern Indiana.
Literally, almost perfectly matched teams, but Southern Indiana didn’t have a Sterling Somers and… There was the loss.
All of that said: Congrats to PLNU on a huuuuuge win, and for those like us from/currently in western Washington: The National Championship game is being broadcast live on Kiro 7 at 12pm.
Game preview’ll be up in the AM and we’ll be live-tweeting the actual game, so chime in!
Go Sea Lions!!