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Comeback win lands Trailblazers in nationaltournament semifinals
 March 21, 2013

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The Vincennes University Men’s Basketball Team pulled off a comeback in a 70-65 win over Howard (TX) College Thursday and moved to the semifinals of the 2013 NJCAA Div. I Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament.

The fifth-seeded Trailblazers (33-2) fell behind by double digits before clawing back to take the lead and survive a back-and-forth final 10 minutes with 13th Seed Howard (30-6) to earn a 7 p.m. (Vincennes time) Friday match-up with Northwest Florida State in the tournament’s Final Four.

Northwest Florida State knocked off the tournament’s No. 1 Seed Iowa Western 87-81 in overtime prior to VU’s game vs. Howard on Thursday.

A subplot of the comeback was VU sophomore Jerrod Gaston’scareer-high 26 points – 17 coming in the second half. Gaston was 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, including three treys in the first half. Sophomore Deshawn Delaney had a double-double with 19 points (9-for-9 at the free throw line) and 13 rebounds.

Sophomore Damarius Smith hit all three of his shots and went 3-for-4 at the stripe for nine points. He also handed out seven assists.

The 35 points from Gaston and Smith helped the Trailblazers’ bench outscore the Hawks’ reserves 42-13 and VU recovered from trailing 41-29 early in the second half.

Sophomore forward Cameron Forte had 22 points to lead Howard. Freshman Goran Huskic had 14.

After a slow start, the Trailblazers began the second halfin an eight-point hole and didn’t hold a lead until Smith pickedup a loose ball on a Hawks turnover with just less than 10:00 remaining and his layup made it 49-48 VU.

From that point, the game felt like tug-of-war. Despite going more than 11:00 without a field goal and relying on free throws to stay in the contest, Howardgot the lead back and pushed it to 53-49 not long after Smith’s transition bucket. Thelead changed hands several times until Delaney spunfree from a defender and laid the ball in the basket for another VU advantage with 1:38 to play.

The game was still in doubt for the Trailblazers with 30 seconds to go. The Hawks’ Jacob Thomas missed a trey that would have tied it yet again and VU gained possession when Delaney saved the loose-ball rebound to Gaston. Gaston was grabbed as he started to the other end and he hit a pair from the free throw line for the final score.

Following a troubling first 20 minutes in which Forte scored 15 and Huskic 12, while Howard held a large free throw advantage (8-for-11 by Howard vs. 1-for-1 by VU), the Trailblazers went 15-for-16 at the line and 12-for-25 from the floor (47 percent). Howard, however, was just 6-for-22 in the second half.

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