PINEHURST, N.C. -- Sophomore Gevon Arrington/Petersburg scored a game-high 19 points to lead No. 8 Richard Bland College to its second Region 10 Men's Basketball Tournament Championship in three years with a 78-75 overtime victory past No. 3 Louisburg (N.C.) College on Saturday evening in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Classmate Jaquan Wooten/Kinston, North Carolina added 13 points and freshman Tim Bing Jr./District Heights, Maryland had 10 points for the nationally-ranked and tournament No. 2 seed Statesmen (28-4) in the game played at Sandhills Community College. Richard Bland, winners of eight-straight and 15 of 16, advances to the 32nd Annual NJCAA Division II National Tournament, March 21-25, at Danville Area Community College in Danville, Illinois. Troy Locke scored 16 points for the nationally-ranked and tournament No. 1 seed Hurricanes (27-4).
Richard Bland had already qualified for the National Tournament in Illinois on Friday night by virtue of Region 10 receiving two bids to the 16-team championship field. The Statesmen qualified with their 70-61 semifinal victory past Patrick Henry that advanced them to the Region 10 Tournament Championship against Louisburg. The Hurricanes had already qualified for the National Tournament, as well, courtesy of their Region 10 regular season title. Tournament pairings will be available on Tuesday, March 14, and each of the 16 participating schools will play a minimum of two games.
Richard Bland will be making its second National Tournament appearance in three years, after winning the 2015 NJCAA Division II National Championship. The Statesmen defeated John Wood (Ill.) Community College 64-53 on March 21, 2015 at the Mary Miller Gymnasium on the campus of DACC in Danville, Illinois. Richard Bland finished its most memorable storybook 2014-15 campaign with a school-record of 32-4, winning the national title in only its second year back in action following a 20-year hiatus from competitive sports at the College. The Statesmen are now an impressive 102-29 (.779) over the past four seasons.
Richard Bland, No. 8 in this week's NJCAA Division II Top 20 Poll, fell behind 8-7 about seven minutes into the title tilt, before using a 7-3 run to lead 14-11 at the 7:00 mark. The Statesmen extended their run to 13-7 to lead 20-15 with about five minutes left in the opening half. The two teams traded baskets over the final minutes as Richard Bland led 29-23 at the intermission. Arrington (10), along with sophomores Deandre Clark/Orange (6) and Myles Markland/Petersburg (5), combined for 21 first-half points. Jordan Oakley scored seven first-half points for Louisburg.
Richard Bland began the second half with a 10-6 run to lead 39-29 at the 15:00 mark. Louisburg, however, outscored the Statesmen 16-12 to close to within 51-45 with about nine minutes remaining. The Hurricanes continued their comeback and was within 56-55 with 4:49 on the clock, and led by four with 1:15 left in regulation (64-60). Freshman Deon Joyner/North Charleston, South Carolina converted an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the deficit to one, but Louisburg made two free throws to push the margin to three points. Arrington sent the game to overtime with his game-tying three-point field goal with 19 seconds on the clock as the contest was tied at 66-66 at the end of regulation.
Richard Bland led 72-68 with 50.7-seconds remaining in OT, and it was 73-71 after a three-pointer by Louisburg that followed 1-2 free throws by Bing, who then added two more free throws for a 75-71 lead with 20-seconds left toward the thrilling and final three-point margin of victory. Bing (10), Arrington (9) and Wooten (9) combined for 28 points after halftime.
Arrington led Richard Bland with his game-high 19 points. Wooten had 13 points for the Statesmen, while Bing finished with 10 points, and Clark contributed nine points.
Locke led Louisburg with his 16 points, while Oakley and Mikeil Watkins each had 15 points and Josh Bougher added 13 points.
Richard Bland and Louisburg were playing for the 10th time in the sport of men's basketball, and the Hurricanes still lead the closely-played rivalry series at 6-4. The Statesmen, however, did avenge a pair of regular-season setbacks to Louisburg, including 71-66 in the first meeting on January 14 in North Carolina and 78-71 in the second meeting on February 8 at Statesman Hall.