DELAWARE, Ohio --- The Lynchburg College men's basketball team nearly rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit Saturday evening, but 10th-ranked Ohio Wesleyan University escaped with a 97-94 victory in the second-round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Tournament. Hornet junior guard Zack Burnett connected for a game-high 30 points and seven assists, and hit four of his five three pointers on the night. He broke the 1,000-point barrier for his career in the first half, and now has 1,025 points in his three seasons with a full year remaining to play.
Ohio Wesleyan led 74-59 with 12:33 left in the contest and still had a 94-87 advantage with under two minutes left on the game clock. A steal from senior A.J. Hamilton led to a traditional three-point play from Burnett to make it a four-point game. Another Bishop turnover gave LC possession again and Burnett quickly finished at the rim to make the score 96-94 with 57 seconds left. Lynchburg got a stop on the defensive end and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but a turnover with 14 seconds remaining forced the Hornets to foul. Seth Clark made one of his two free throws and a Hornet three-point attempt in the closing seconds to send the game to overtime hit off the front rim.
Senior forward Alex Graves just missed a double-double with 17 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Austen Arnold tallied 15 points and five rebounds and Hamilton contributed 11 points. Bobby Ford and Jay Allen each had eight points, while Omar Kemp grabbed seven rebounds to go along with four points. Burnett scored 20 of his game-high 30 in the second half and had 49 points in the two NCAA tournament games.
Ohio Wesleyan (25-4) had four players score 20 points or more, and had just 11 from its other five players to see action and only four bench points. Ben Simpson had 22 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, hitting 9-of-10 free throws. Clark had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Nate Axelrod finished with 22 points and seven assists. Claude Gray was the fourth Bishop to net 20 points.
The Battling Bishops showed immediately why they are a top-10 team nationally, opening an early 10-2 lead. LC trimmed the deficit to three after a three-pointer from Ford seven minutes into the game, but OWU took a 53-38 lead on a three-point basket from Clark with 3:13 left in the half. The Hornets cut into the lead to 57-47 at intermission. Axelrod had 20 first-half points for the hosts, while Graves scored 13 in the first 20 minutes of play.
The Hornets shot 50 percent from the floor (35-70), while holding OWU to just 35 percent shooting overall (27-77) and 28 percent from three-point range (14-50), including 3-of-22 in the second half from distance (14%). The difference was at the free-throw line, where the Bishops converted 29-of-35 chances (83 percent) compared to 18-of-26 (69 percent) from Lynchburg.
The Hornets end the season with a 23-7 record, the most wins in program history. LC captured its first Old Dominion Athletic Conference title since the 1978-79 season and the six seniors (Graves, Arnold, Hamilton, Kemp, Daniel Rowe and Chad Lipes) end their careers with a 76-34 overall record.
--- This release is courtesy of the Lynchburg College sports information department. ---