Eastern Florida State Men’s Basketball Team Advances To Finals Of NJCAA DI National Tournament
By Michael Parsons, Eastern Florida State College Sports // March 25, 2017
will face Hutchinson Community College on home floor in Kansas, Tip time 8:00 p.m.
Head coach Jeremy Shulman talks about the win over South Plains and advancing to the national championship game pic.twitter.com/Hf2zccbryj
— EFSC Titans Sports (@efscTitans) March 25, 2017
ABOVE VIDEO: Eastern Florida State head coach Jeremy Shulman speaks with Michael Parson about his team win in the Final Four in the NJCAA D1 National Tournament.
HUTCHINSON, KANSAS – The Eastern Florida State College men’s basketball team will be playing for a national championship for the first time in program history on Saturday night in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The Titans used a 13-5 run in the final five minutes of the game to defeat South Plains 77-65 in the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship semifinal and move into the final where they will face Hutchinson Community College who beat Northwest Florida State 88-79 in the first semifinal.
“This team – this is a special group of people and I am just ridiculously happy and proud for each one of these guys and for our staff,” Eastern Florida State College men’s basketball coach Jeremy Shulman said.
“South Plains is an unbelievably talented ball club. They were number one in the country for 16 straight weeks for a reason, they are really fantastic.”
“I am just so proud of the guys to have this opportunity to play for a national championship tomorrow.”
South Plains jumped out to a 5-0 lead but Austin Awad hit the first of his four 3-pointers of the first half to get the Titans on the board.
They would head to the locker room up 33-30.
“The shot felt good in the first half, I was just taking the looks they gave me honestly, in the second half they weren’t helping off me at all and it opened up driving lanes for my teammates,” said Awad who finished with 15 points.
The second half was tight throughout as South Plains took the lead briefly at 49-48, but Awad hit two free throws to give the Titans the lead for good.
In foul trouble most of the second half, Shaq Carter and Eli Abaev came up big inside time after time as Carter finished with 13 points and nine rebounds while Abaev had 14 rebounds.
As a team, the Titans outrebounded South Plains 44-41 and outscored them 28-14 in the paint.
“We want to control our house,” said Shulman who calls the paint his house. “I thought we did a great job of that tonight.”
Kareem Brewton took over in the second half, scoring 19 of his team-high 26 points in the second half for the Titans who are now 31-5 on the season and heading to the championship game.
“32 has a better Ring to it,” Awad said with a smile.
They get the chance to win 32 but this could be the toughest challenge EFSC has faced in program history.
Even though the game is technically being played on neutral floor, it’s likely it won’t feel that way as Hutchinson is the host team and plays their games where EFSC has now won twice to advance to the Finals.
The Blue Dragons lost on their home floor in last year’s NJCAA Finals to Salt Lake, 74-64.
Hutchinson is led by one of the best players in all of college basketball, forward Shakur Juiston.
Juiston, 6’7″ and 210 pounds is a sophomore and averaged a double-double per game this past season with 17 points and 12 rebounds per game.
He is considering offers from major NCAA DI schools such as Rutgers, St. Joe’s, VCU, UConn, Kansas, Iowa State, UNLV, Rhode Island and Oklahoma. He will have two years of Division 1 eligibility wherever he lands next season.
He will have two years of Division 1 eligibility wherever he lands next season.
In the Blue Dragons victory over Northwest Florida State, Juriston dominated with 18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
The sixth seeded Titans will have their hands full but as EFSC has shown, knocking off higher seeds is something a team must do if it wants to win a championship.
EFSC knocked off the tournaments No.2 seed in South Plains to advance to the Finals and now must take care of the third seeded Blue Dragons, who are now 36-2 on the season with both losses coming to conference foe, Coffeyville Community College.
The game will be shown live on efsctitans.com/webcast
EASTERN FLORIDA 77, SOUTH PLAINS 65
KEY STAT: Eastern Florida shot 12-of-26 (46 percent) in the second half compared to South Plains’ 9-of-34 (27 percent).
TURNING POINT: Austin Awad made a couple of baskets from the charity stripe to put his team up 65-60 with 3:24 remaining. The points started a 6-0 run and carried the Titans into the finals.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kareem Brewton led all scorers with 26 points on 9-of-22 shooting and carried his team down the final stretch.
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