Cowboys' Historic Season Ends In NCAA Sectionals

Cowboys' Historic Season Ends In NCAA Sectionals
MARIETTA, Ohio -- Hardin-Simmons' men's basketball team took its fans on a historic journey that ended with a 102-82 loss to No. 1 Whitman in the round of 16 in the NCAA Division III Championship on Friday evening in Marietta, Ohio.

The Cowboys finished the season with a record of 24-7 and set a new school record for wins. HSU won its second straight American Southwest Conference title and the seniors had a career record of 82-33, which is the best mark in school history.

Things didn't go well in the early going as the Blues pressure led them to an early 16-7 lead. HSU cut the deficit to 20-16 with 12:10 to play in the half. Whitman then caused five turnovers over the next 4:05 and used a 16-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game at that point, 36-18 with 8:05 to play in the half.

The Cowboys were able to start chipping away at the deficit and cut it to 50-40 at the half, despite turning it over 17 times in the half that led to a 20-4 Whitman advantage in points off turnovers.

HSU showed its resiliency out of the halftime locker room and scored the first nine points and 11 of the first 12 to tie the game at 51. The Cowboys had several chances over the next few minutes to take the lead but never could get over the hump. Whitman then hit the Cowboys with a 10-2 run to take a 68-60 lead with 13:23 to play to take control and then continued to build the lead down the stretch.

Justin Jones finished his outstanding career with 22 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Cowboys. Nathaniel Jack had 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Christian O'Neal added 10 points.

Tim Howell led Whitman with 29 points and Joey Hewitt added 21.

The Cowboys shot 63.5 percent in the game but had 30 turnovers and took 26 fewer shots. The Blues took away the Cowboys' biggest strength most of the season on the offensive glass. HSU had just five offensive rebounds on the night.

Whitman moved to 30-0 and will play on Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.

--- ---