EFSC Falls In Championship Game 76-69, Await Seeding Monday
By Mark DeCotis // March 9, 2015
national tournament seeding will be announced at 1 p.m. Monday.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Walking among his downtrodden players following Eastern Florida’s 76-69 loss to Northwest Florida State College in Saturday’s NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA Tournament championship game Titans head coach Jeremy Shulman had a simple message.
“The season’s not over,” said Shulman. “We’re going to Kansas.”
Coach Shulman runnerup trophyAnd Shulman reinforced that in a locker room dripping with disappointment and in speaking with reporters at the College of Central Florida in Ocala.
“It’s going to take a few days,” Shulman said. “We’ve got to refocus. This was not our end goal. This (state championship) was a goal.”
“We wanted to make it to the national tournament so we could win a national championship. That goal is right there for us.”
The precedent exists. Two seasons ago Northwest did not even reach the state tournament’s final round but received an at-large bid to the national tournament based on its regular-season national ranking and reached the title game where it lost to the College of Central Florida.
Eastern Florida was the state runner-up that year.
Kyle Meyer ShootsNow, Shulman and Eastern Florida, armed with the second automatic bid that rotates yearly among regions are poised to make some noise in Hutchinson, Kansas, site of the NJCAA Division I Championship Tournament that begins March 16.
The national tournament appearance is Eastern Florida’s first since 1987.
Saturday’s loss dropped FCSAA Southern Conference champion Eastern Florida to 29-4 while Panhandle Conference champion Northwest improved to 29-2.
While Eastern Florida’s zone defense limited Northwest to 76 points compared to the 99 it scored in beating Miami Dade in the semifinal round and the 79 it scored it defeating Hillsborough Community College in the quarterfinals, the Raiders zone was equally as effective in shutting down the Titans.
The 69 points marked the Titans fourth-lowest output of the season. Northwest limited the Titans to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor (24-for-72) and 34.8 percent from the three-point line (8-for-23).
Northwest shot 25-for-66 from the floor for 37.9 percent and 7-for-25 from the three- point line for 28 percent.
The Titans were 13-for-22 from the free throw line to 19-for-32 for Northwest in a back-and-forth game ended with a 19-13 Northwest run from a 57-56 lead with 4 minutes and 21 seconds to play.
“We ran into a great team tonight,” Shulman said. “We didn’t play our A, or B or probably our C game but we battled and battled. We just showed grit and toughness, especially the second half.
“If we take this the right way we’ll learn from this and we’ll get even better. We will.”
Jermohn QueenAll-state and all-tournament team member sophomore Kyle Meyer led Eastern Florida with 16 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double. Classmate Payton Hulsey also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Jermohn Queen had 14 points along with freshman Djordje Beronja. Sophomore Demetrius McReynolds, who also made the all-tournament team, had 13.
State Player of the Year Benji Bell led Northwest with 25 points.
There were eight lead changes and three ties. The game’s biggest lead was Northwest’s 40-31 second-half advantage.
The Titans led once in the second half, 43-42 with 15:05 to play.
The national tournament seeding will be announced at 1 p.m. Monday.
Also on Saturday, Eastern Florida women’s basketball player sophomore Rhaven Kemp was named to the all-tournament team and classmate Jessica Doyle received her all-state honor.