NCAA First Round: Chico State 75, Humboldt State 68
March 9, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash - Guard Jay Flores had game highs of 18 points and six assists in leading Chico State to a 75-68 win over Humboldt State in the third game of Friday’s first round of the West Regional of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the campus of host Western Washington University.
The Wildcats, the No.4 seed, will play either eighth-seed Grand Canyon or top-seed Western Washington in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal game.
Chico State led 28-27 at halftime, but fell behind 37-31 early in the second half on back-to-back jumpers by Humboldt State center Matt Lipski. Chico State, however, responded quickly climbing back to within one point on a layup by Flores and a three-pointer by forward Amir Carraway.
The game remained tight the rest of the way. After the seventh tie of the contest, guard Brandon Sperling put Humboldt ahead 59-57 with 3:40 left, but Chico State got a three-pointer by forward Jordan Semple with 3:14 left to reclaim the lead at 60-59. Following a turnover, Chico State went ahead by three on a layup by Flores with 2:36 left.
Carraway stretched Chico State’s lead to six, 65-59, with a three-pointer with 52 seconds remaining, then the Wildcats made 10 of 10 free throws over the final 35 seconds to clinch the victory.
Chico State ended up converting 17 of 21 free throws, including 13 of 15 in the second half in winning its first NCAA regional game since the inaugural Division II tournament in 1958. The Wildcats had lost 13 straight NCAA II playoff games.
In addition to Flores, Chico State, which improved to 25-7, also got 14 points from Semple and Carraway and 11 from forward Jordan Barton.
Forward Randy Hunter led Humboldt State, which had beaten Chico State in last Saturday’s CCAA title game, with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Sperling finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Humboldt State, which finished its season at 22-8, dominated the backboards 36-22, but had eight more turnovers (15-7). Both teams had nearly identical shooting percentages as Chico State shot 50 percent (26-52), while Humboldt State made 26 of 53 (49.1 percent).
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