ASC TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
Post Game Interview<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6GtGbKmjyw&t=82s>
A standing room only crowd of 2,018 witnessed history on Saturday evening as LeTourneau men’s basketball played in their first ever American Southwest Conference Tournament Championship game.
The finals matchup for the YellowJackets was Hardin-Simmons, the defending ASC Champions and No. 1 seed from the West Division. Each team came into the match riding a six-game winning streak. The Cowboys veteran roster includes seven seniors who have been with the program for four-straight seasons with tournament experience.
That experience was an advantage for Hardin-Simmons early in the game as they stormed out to a 21-4 lead at the 12:30 mark. The Cowboys held LeTourneau to their lowest-scoring half of the season at 27 points as HSU led 49-27 at the break.
“Hardin-Simmons jumped on us from the start and, to their credit, played a tremendous first half,” said head coach Dan Miller<http://www.letuathletics.com/coaches.aspx?rc=436>. “It was obviously not the start we were looking for as they hurt us going inside and we never found a good rhythm on offense that first half.”
The YellowJackets were not going to go down without a fight, and fight they did as they scored the first 13 points of the second half. The 13-0 run cut the HSU lead to just nine, forcing a Cowboy timeout.
LETU would get within one possession on multiple occasions, the last of which was at the 10:54 mark when Nate West<http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3318> scored at the rim bringing the score to 65-62.
After HSU had stretched the lead back to 14, C.J. Bird<http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3306> scored on a tip-in with 3:57 remaining to cap off an 8-0 run to pull LeTourneau within six at 89-83.
“Our team showed the character that they’ve been showing all year long in that second half, and we battled to make it a one-possession game but couldn’t quite get over the top,” said Miller. “I’m so proud of our guys the way they stayed together today and that second half and battled.”
YellowJackets put up 65 points in the second half, outscoring the Cowboys by 10 in the final period. LETU shot .500 percent from the floor in the second half including 12-of-26 from 3-point range.
The Cowboys would hold the YellowJackets off for the remainder of the game and sealed the victory with free throws in the final minutes extending the last lead to 104-92, earning their second consecutive ASC title.
LeTourneau collected their program first ASC Runner-Up trophy to add to the long list of program firsts and broken records that took place during the 2016-17 season.
Named to the 2017 ASC Championship All-Tournament team were Senior Jeff Martin <http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3311> and freshman Nate West <http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3318>. Martin and West are the first LeTourneau players ever to be named all-tournament selections.
Jeff Martin<http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3311> set an ASC Tournament record with 26 assists in the three-game series. In all three contests, the Seven Lakes High School product was knocking on the door of what would have been the tournament’s first ever triple-double. He finished with nine points, ten assists and six rebounds in the championship. Martin’s averages for the tournament were extremely impressive with 14.3 points, eight rebounds, and 8.7 assists. The senior point guard was sent off with a standing ovation when he received his all-tournament team award in front of the home crowd.
Nate West<http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3318> scored 70 total points in the tournament including a career-high 26 points in the title game on Saturday. West was 7-of-17 from the floor and kept the YellowJackets within striking distance.
Not to be overshadowed by his teammates Alec Colhoff<http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3307> scored a game-high 32 points in the second half. The junior guard was 9-of-14 from 3-point range, tying a school record set by Kendrick Brooks in 1998. Colhoff shot .750 from behind the arc in the second half and averaged 19 points in the tournament.
C.J. Bird<http://www.letuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3306> was also in double-figures as he contributed 12 points off the bench on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor in just 11 minutes.
“We are so grateful to all the fans who packed Solheim the past three nights and made it a very special tournament,” said Miller.
Miller, who coached the entire weekend without much of his voice, vied for his team in the post-game interview when asked about the possibility of an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
“I can tell you this; there are not 64 teams better than the LeTourneau YellowJackets.”
LETU will have to wait until Monday at 11:30 a.m. to know if they have earned a spot in the 64-team field. The NCAA Division III tournament would be a program first and the second in school history as the YellowJacket baseball team made the first national tournament appearance for LeTourneau in 2014.
“We are hopeful that we get an at-large bid because we still believe we have some great basketball to play yet this season. No matter what happens, I love this team, and I’m extremely proud to coach them.”
You can tune in at 11:30 a.m. on Monday to NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Selection Show here<http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2017/02/27>.
We are still unsure about our chances to receive an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.
The NCAA Selection Show will start at 11:30 a.m. on Monday.
We are going to have a watch party in our conference room at Solheim with the players (those that don’t have class) as well as the coaches and other athletic staff.
If you are interested in attending/covering the event, please let me know.
The selection show can be seen live online here: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2017/02/27
Sports Information Director
Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach