Phoenix secures first DII Men's Basketball national championship
March 22, 2014
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DANVILLE, Ill. – Phoenix (Ariz.) won their first NJCAA DII Men's Basketball national championship Saturday with a 71-67 win over Essex County (N.J.) at Mary Miller Center at Danville Area Community College in Danville, Ill.
The victory by the Bears makes Phoenix the first NJCAA member college from Arizona to win a national championship in men's basketball.
The national title game was a tight one early on as niether team could muster much of a lead in the first half. Phoenix then forced three consecutive turnovers just before the half, which sparked an 11-0 run. The Bears led at the break 41-33.
Phoenix saw their hard earned double-digit lead evaporate slowly to Essex in the second half. With 1:40 left in regulation, Dion Rodgers scored six straight points for the Wolverines to tie the game 65-65.
The Bears responded on the following possesion when goaltending was called on Joel Feigler's layup, giving Phoenix a two-point lead with 39 seconds left in the game. After a Brandon Brown free throw with 20 seconds remaining, Essex cut the Bears' lead to 68-67 on a layup by Rashad McNeil.
With three seconds on the clock and a national championship on the line, Derreck Brooks sank two free throws to give the Bears a 70-67 lead. Phoenix then forced an Essex turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass to seal the win and their first national championship in program history.
Brooks led the Bears with 25 points while Feigler scored 17 and had six rebounds.
Tournament MVP honors went to Brown, who scored 14 points and was credited with five assists in the the title game. For the tournament, he averaged nearly 19 points and six assists a game.
Rogers led the Wolverines with 25 points while Chris Compas contributed 12 in the loss.