UNIONTOWN, Pa. – The Illinois Tech men's basketball team opened USCAA Tournament play on Wednesday afternoon on the campus of Penn State-Fayette. Behind an effective game from USCAA All-American Samuel Rarick, the fourth-seeded Scarlet Hawks defeated the tournament's fifth-seed, Florida College, 63-54.
How it Happened
- The Scarlet Hawks started the game out on fire, building a 13-4 lead from the opening-tip. Rarick made his first three shots from the floor.
- Florida College, however, responded with a 15-0 run to build a 19-13 lead with 10:56 left in the first half.
- Tech took the lead back at the 7:25 mark on a Max Hisatake layup (22-21). The slim lead held through the first half, as a Rarick fadeaway put Tech up 34-29 just before the intermission's buzzer.
- A Parker Joncus steal leading to a Jake Bruns to Hisatake dunk on a fastbreak highlighted the half's early portion, but Tech's defense was the story to begin the second half. Florida College made a field goal at the 18:52 mark, but would not make a shot from the floor until a Jordan Benjamin jumper at the 10:40 mark.
- Tech's lead eclipsed double-digits for the first time with 12:50 to play (44-32) with a Jake Bruns three-pointer from Malik Howze.
- Florida College managed to slow the game down and trim the lead back to double-digits, but Samuel Rarick jumper took over with seven points on three straight possessions. Tech built its largest lead of the game (15, 54-39) with 5:57 left to play.
- The Falcons, however, would not go down without a fight. The Scarlet Hawks struggled to protect the basketball against the Falcons' press as the lead dwindled to as low as five (59-54) with 1:20 remaining.
- After extending the lead back to six, Florida College missed three consective three-point field goal attempts before Bruns split a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left. Jake Digiorgio pulled down a key offensive rebound after Bruns missed the second foul shot, which led to another Bruns split a second later. A Howze steal-and-score put the finishing touches on a nine-point victory.
Scarlet Hawk Standouts
- Rarick dominated the game offensively, scoring a game-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He also led the Scarlet Hawks with four blocked shots.
- Hisatake came off the bench to record a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double. He also blocked two shots.
- Both Howze (12 points, eight assists) and Joncus (seven points, seven rebounds) played all 40 minutes.
- Digiorgio led the Scarlet Hawks with 15 rebounds.
Stats to Know
- Tech won despite committing a season-high 29 turnovers. Florida College committed 16 as well.
- The defense for Illinois Tech was outstanding. The Falcons shot just 29.4% for the game and 24.2% in the second half. They were also 26.3% from three-point range and 56.3% from the free throw line. The Scarlet Hawks were 47.2% on the evening.
- Tech once again dominated on the glass, winning the rebound battle 51-34.
- The Scarlet Hawks will play tomorrow (Thursday) at 8:00 p.m. eastern (7:00 p.m. central) against the tournament's top seed, the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Live audio, video, and stats are set to be available courtesy of the USCAA.