On the final day of the regular season, the Urbana University women's basketball team saw their chances to secure a regular season G-MAC title and the top seed in the conference tournament slip away early on Saturday afternoon at Trevecca Nazarene University. The Trojans defended their home court with a 75-72 victory over the Blue Knights, earning the regular season title, a top seed and the right to host the conference tournament in March.
Both teams entered Saturday's game with identical 6-1 marks in the G-MAC. Trevecca Nazarene's lone loss came back on February 2nd at Urbana, a 71-59 defeat at the hands of the Blue Knights. In that one, Urbana built an early double-digit lead and held on down the stretch.
The Trojans followed Urbana's blue print for victory on Saturday, building a 20-10 lead with 8:32 to go in the first half. At that time, the G-MAC's leading scorer, UU sophomore Ciara Geiger, had to go to the bench with her third foul. The home team took advantage and grew their lead to 42-20 before the break.
The Trojan lead expanded to as many as 26 in the second half, but Urbana refused to go quietly. The Blue Knights mounted a late comeback with help from the deep ball. A Geiger three with a little under four minutes to play trimmed the Trojans' lead to 67-61. With under a minute to play, DeVonyea Johnson drained a deep ball to cut the deficit to 75-70. Johnson was fouled on her next attempt from behind the arc, and she headed to the line with her team down five with just four ticks left on the clock.
After sinking the first two free throws, Johnson attempted to miss the third and tap the rebound out to an open teammate for the game-tying three. The loose ball bounced around in the scrum until it landed in the hands of a Trojan, ending Urbana's comeback bid.
Geiger came on strong in the second half, scoring 16 of her 19 points to lead the late Urbana charge. Fellow sophomore Kate Francisco also scored 19 to go with a game-high 13 rebounds. The double-double is her team-high fifth of the season. Johnson was the only other Blue Knight in double figures, finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Trevecca (18-7, 7-1 G-MAC) will now host the G-MAC women's tournament on March 8-9. As the two-seed, Urbana (13-15, 6-2 G-MAC) will take on three-seed Cedarville (17-8, 5-3 G-MAC) in the 5:00 p.m. game on Friday night. The Blue Knights and Yellow Jackets split the season series, with each team winning on the other's home court. In the other semifinal, Trevecca awaits the winner of the Central State-Ursuline game to be played on Thursday, March 7th.
The Urbana University men's basketball team has one conference game remaining on its schedule to track down the team's elusive first victory in the G-MAC after falling 85-70 at Trevecca Nazarene University on Saturday evening.
The home team turned an early 8-point lead into a 52-34 halftime advantage after closing the frame on a 14-4 run. The Trojans' lead stayed in double figures until a pair of Armond Battle free throws and a Battle three-pointer trimmed Urbana's deficit to 63-57 with about ten minutes to go. Unfortunately for Urbana, the Trojans closed out the second half like they did the first, scoring 22 of the next 32 points to coast to the final 15-point margin of victory.
Battle scored a game-high 25 points in defeat. He finished a perfect 10 for 10 at the charity stripe and added a pair of blocks and a pair of steals. Fellow senior Ramel Mitchell added 18 points and 7 rebounds, and sophomore Casey Baker totaled 8 points and 6 boards.
The Trojans' win comes three weeks to the day after their 11-point triumph over the Blue Knights in Urbana on February 2nd. TNU improves to 10-15 and 3-3 in the G-MAC with the win.
The loss is Urbana's third in a row and eighth in their last nine tries. Overall, the Blue Knights slip to 10-18, including an 0-5 mark in the G-MAC. The team is already locked into the fourth seed in the conference tournament, but they get one more crack at a conference win on Wednesday night when they host the Marauders from Central State University. The Marauders posted a nine-point win over UU in Wilberforce exactly one month ago. That loss started Urbana's current 1-8 stretch. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. in the Grimes Center on Wednesday. It's the Blue Knights final regular season game and the final home game in the careers of UU seniors Armond Battle, Ramel Mitchell, Christian Moore and Branden Woods.