Uniontown, Pennsylvania- The Warriors defeated the fifth seeded Gyrenes of Ave Maria, 62-57 to advance to the USCAA National Championship game. Rick Doran led Rochester College a double double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Gyrenes got off to a quick start off the tip, with Mike Coyle hitting the turnaround jumper over Rick Doran (Clinton Twp., MI./ Chippewa Valley). Brad Norman (Bay City, MI./ Delta CC) got the scoring rolling for the Warriors with a three from Dramell Hogan (Detroit, MI./ Walled Lake Western) with 15:02 left in the half. Both teams started the first 6 minutes of the game with sloppy ball control, turning it over four times apiece.
Stephan Henning (Beloit, WI./ Rochester) tied the game up with 12:12 left in the half with a tough drive to the basket and finish over Coyle. Henning gave Rochester College their first lead on the next possession with a jumper from left elbow to go up 9-8. Henning carried the Warriors through the first 10 minutes, scoring 8 points and tallying 2 assists.
With 7:42 in the half, Matt Chattin, Ave Maria's leading scorer at 14.23 points per game, gave the Gyrenes a two-point advantage, 19-17, but Doran answered quickly with a lay-in from Hogan. Henning then put the Warriors up three with a deep ball from Sean Mattia (Sterling Heights, MI./ Sterling Heights).
Hogan kept the momentum on Rochester College's side with a steal on the defensive end. Norman gave Rochester their largest lead of the half of 6 points by dialing it up from beyond the arc.
Wendell Powell II ended the Warriors run with two in the paint to make it a 25-21 ball game, in favor of the Warriors. Chattin hit a turn around fader with 1:30 in the half to cut the Warrior lead down to two.
At half, the Warriors led 28-25.
Henning led all scorers in the first-half with 11 points and had 2 assists. Norman cashed in from deep twice for 6 of his 8 points. Hogan had a game high 4 first-half rebounds to go with 4 points. Rochester College shot 43.5% from the floor and 31% from three.
Chattin led the Gyrenes with 6 points and 3 rebounds. Powell II contributed 6 points of his own. Kiel Lewis and Akii Dean each had 4 points. Ave Maria shot 50% from the floor in the first half and committed 10 team turnovers.
There were 7 lead changes and 5 ties throughout the first half. 10 of Rochester College's 28 came off of turnovers, and 7 points from second chance put backs. Ave Maria outscored the Warriors in the paint 18-10 in the first-half.
Hogan gave Rochester College a 5-point lead out of the locker room with a baseline put-in from Mattia. Doran continued the Warriors streak with a reverse lay up. Torey Throop (Vestaburg, MI./ Kirtland CC) gave Rochester College their largest lead at 7, 41-34, with 12:46 left in the game. Doran then kept the lead by turning away a floater from Lewis with an emphatic block the following possession. Rochester College went up 46-38 after Doran completed a three-point play after getting fouled in the paint. The Warriors lead extended to 10 at 50-40 with 7:32 in the game thanks to a tip in by Doran off a Hogan missed three.
Facing their largest deficit of the game, the Gyrenes looked to Chattin to cut into the Warrior lead. Down 7, he cashed in a three-pointer from the left corner. After going bucket for bucket, Lewis slimmed down the Warrior lead even more with an And-1 conversion with 3:40 left in the game. Fugate hit a big three-pointer on the ensuing possession to make it a three-point ball game. Lewis made it 54-53 after finishing on a fast break from Chattin.
With 1:24 remaining, Henning converted at the charity stripe to put Rochester College back up 2. Lewis fouled out for the Gyrenes with 1:12 left after fouling Norman on an inbound play. Norman hit both free throws to put Rochester College up 57-53.
Chattin stepped up for Ave Maria once again on the offensive end, getting fouled on a put back from Dean. Chattin made it a 57-54 ball game with 42.8 seconds remaining.
Fugate put up a three ball to tie, but Norman came down with the board and was fouled on his way down. After making 1 of 2, Fugate led the Gyrenes down the court and hit a three with 18.2 seconds left to make it 58-57.
Hogan gave Rochester College a 3-point advantage with 14.1 seconds left. Chattin attempted a fade away three with under 10 ticks remaining, but missed off the rim to Hogan. Hogan iced the game going 2 for 2 at the line, to give Rochester College the win, 62-57.
Rick Doran led all scorers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rochester College's scoring was spread out, with four players in double digits. Hogan finished with 16 points and 7 boards. Norman pitched in 13, and Henning contributed 12. Henning and Mattia had game highs with 4 assists. The Warriors shot 47% from the floor, and 72% from the free throw line.
Chattin led the Gyrenes with 14 points and 6 rebounds. He also had a game high 4 steals. Lewis and Fugate each had 13 points. Dean had a game high 4 assists and finished with 5 points. Ave Maria committed 16 team turnovers, and shot 63.6% from the foul line.
The Warriors move onto the championship game tomorrow night, March 10, at 9PM. They will play Oakwood University. Rochester College will be playing for their fifth national title.