THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - On the second to last day of the 2014 calendar year the 20th Annual Thrivent Financial Tournament hosted by Cal Lutheran came to a close with the host Kingsmen upsetting d3hoops.com No. 9 Illinois Wesleyan 67-61 in the championship game after Fontbonne (Mo.) defeated Nazareth (N.Y.) 79-70 in the consolation final to start off the day.
The championship game had just that atmosphere and CLU came out visibly fired up. To wrap up an undefeated month of December the Kingsmen played the most sound game of the season in all facets, led by now two-time tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) Arik Smith as the host team took home the trophy for the second straight year. Coltrane Powdrill (CLU)was also selected to the All-Tournament Team in back-to-back years and in 2014 was joined by Ryan Coyle (IWU), Maurice Mills (NC), Darius Rucker (FONT) and Andy Stempel (IWU).
A defensive battle started the title game and CLU generated a 9-4 lead over the opening five minutes before the score teeter-tottered during the first half, changing hands four times with a trio of ties. With 5:07 to play in the half Powdrill, Martin Flowers and Smithscored on three consecutive possessions to build a 23-17 advantage. A goaltending call against the Kingsmen could have been detrimental as the Titans cut their deficit to five points, but CLU closed out the period with a 9-3 run that included dunks from both Powdrill and Connor McGuire to get the crowd energized going into the break.
In the second half, the Titans outscored the Kingsmen 37-33, but CLU never trailed. IWU closed the gap to four on a number of occasions, the last coming with three ticks to play on a Dylan Overstreet three-pointer, but in the last 51 seconds McGuire, Smith, Powdrill and Dan Wade combined to go 9-for-11 from the charity stripe to ink the win for the Violet and Gold.
Cal Lutheran (6-2) looked to Smith who provided 18 points, four rebounds, four steals, two blocks and two assists as he continued to be a playmaker for the home team. Powdrill's 19 points, which led all players tonight, were accompanied by five rebounds, a block, a steal and an assist. McGuire also reached double figure scoring with 10 points and shared the team-high in rebounding with Guy Lynott as each player grabbed seven boards. Additionally, McGuire stole the ball six times and tallied four blocks. Lanaki Apele handed out a game-high four assists.
Illinois Wesleyan (8-3) was paced by Coyle with 18 points and nine rebounds, a game-high that he shared with teammate Trevor Seibring. Dylan Overstreet chipped in with 11 points before fouling out late in the second stanza.
In the consolation game, a fast tempo featured a back-and-forth battle for much of the 40 minutes as the teams were knotted six times and the lead changed hands a half a dozen times as well. Fontbonne held a one-point, 37-36, advantage at halftime after the teams exchanged three-pointers seemingly at will during the first 20 minutes of play. Fontbonne combined for seven from long range while Nazareth knocked down four as the Griffins and Golden Flyers shot 42.9 and 50 percent, respectively, in the half and continued hot shooting in the second stanza.
After the intermission, the teams swapped the lead four more times with one additional tie. Trailing 45-40, Fontbonne used a 15-0 run over the next four minutes to seize control and the Griffins opened as much as a 14-point lead with 6:46 remaining in regulation.
Fontbonne (3-7) put four players in double digits with Rucker netting 21, Evan Johnson scoring 17, Jared Greenlee adding 14 and Blake Welch chipping in 12. To go along with his 14 points, Greenlee had a huge double-double after grabbing 15 rebounds, adding two steals to his line as well. Johnson led all players with three assists and K. Tyler Williams finished with a game-high six assists in the win.
Nazareth (2-5) got a phenomenal showing from Mills who scored 31 points on a 14-for-15 night from the field, and came down with 12 rebounds while adding five assists, five blocks and two steals. Nick Nadeau also reached double figure scoring with 10 points and Denzell Jackson finished with nine rebounds.
Cal Lutheran opens Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 4:00 p.m. against La Verne as the back end of a mixed double header with the women who tip-off the conference season at 2:00 p.m. inside of the Gilbert Arena.
Tournament Central: 2014 Thrivent Financial
Box Score: FONT 79, NC 70
Box Score: CLU 67, IWU 61
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