Cardinals historic season ends one play short

The Cardinals 2015-2016 magical season ended in disappointing fashion in the second round of the NJCAA national basketball tournament, as they were upset by Southwest Tennessee, 73-72. In the end the quicker SW Tennessee team made the plays down the stretch and the Cardinals did not. NIC led for most of the game, jumping out 11-0 to start the contest, but only led 43-40 at halftime. In the second half there were 9 lead changes as SW Tennessee capitalized on the Cardinals cold shooting and got easy shots at the basket in transition. Despite only shooting 41% in the second half the Cardinals still held a 3 point lead with 2 minutes left.  After two missed free throws by the Cardinals, SW Tennessee hit a contested 3 pointer for the tie at 71 with 42 seconds remaining.  After a Cardinal miss, sophomore Kaleb Warner grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on the put-back attempt with 21 seconds on the clock.  Warner missed the first but hit the second free throw to set up the late game heroics for SW Tennessee.  A tough driving layup put the Saluqis up 1 with 10 seconds remaining.  Region 18 Player of the Year Braian Angola-Rodas ( 5 points) drove the length of the court for a potential game winning layup but it was blocked at the rim out of bounds with 2.4 seconds left. With no time-outs remaining the Cardinals set-up an inbounds play from the baseline that was strongly defended by SWT, forcing an entry pass to the top of the key. Lucas Antunez was forced to shoot a tough running three pointer that appeared to be short, but was above the room.  A player from SWT grabbed the ball out of the air before it hit the rim, and the outside official blew his whistle for a potential goaltending call. After a short meeting between the officials the call was overturned and the basket was not awarded, ending the Cardinals season.

The Cardinals were led in scoring by sophomore BJ Blake with 28 points, but the remaining starters only scored 15 points combined. Reserve Trey Burch-Manning had 13 points and 4 rebounds, and fellow freshmen Haywood Irwin and Ziggy Zaequan added 7 points and 6 points respectively off the bench.

The Cardinals won the first 31 games of the season to finish 31-2.This marks the final year in the NJCAA as the Cardinals will move to the Northwest Athletic Conference for the 2016-17 season.  The season ends with an NJCAA national tournament Sweet 16 appearance, #3 ranking in the Final NJCAA poll, SWAC championship, an unprecedented 30-0 regular season and the best record in school history!

Congratulations Cardinals Men’s Basketball on a Magical Season!

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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