Big runs at the beginning of both the first and second halves and hot 3-point shooting for Florida Southern kept IUP’s title hopes at bay as the Crimson Hawks fell to the Moccasins, 77-62, in the Division II Men’s National Championship on Saturday.
Trailing just, 38-29, at the half, IUP faced a steep double-digit deficit after Florida Southern went on a quick 11-2 run to push ahead early in the second.
IUP flirted with a comeback but could never get any closer than seven after Daddy Ugbede drained two free throws with 9:59 left to go.
Florida Southern’s first-team All-American Kevin Capers shot lights out for the Moccasins. Capers, who had been battling a stomach flu after making the game-winning 3-pointer to beat Bellarmine in the semifinals, cashed in on his first six shots, including a scorching 5-of-5 from 3-point range. He finished with a game-high 24 points.
While Capers was on fire for Florida Southern, IUP’s spark plug, Shawn Dyer, couldn’t seem to find the net. The senior transfer from West Liberty made just 3-of-11 shots for the Crimson Hawks in the loss while All-American point guard Devante Chance made just 5-of-18 shots. They finished with 16 and 17 points, respectively.
The top-ranked and one-loss Moccasins started out nearly unguardable as they hit their first seven 3-pointers from the field as a result of their fast-paced style of offense.They finished by making an impressive 13 3s after averaging nine made 3s per game coming in.
With a barrage of deep shots falling, Florida Southern jumped out to a 21-7 lead just eight minutes into the contest.
During that stretch, IUP couldn’t keep control of the ball and turned the ball over five times, leading to 10 points for Florida Southern.
Defense and rebounding late in the half allowed the Crimson Hawks to get back in the game as they outscored the Moccasins, 21-14, to close out the first half. IUP outrebounded Florida Southern, 21-15, in the game’s first 20 minutes, including a 9-4 advantage on the offensive glass. That helped to counter the fact that the Moccasins cashed in on 8-of-14 shots from beyond the arc.
With 47 seconds left in the half, though, Shawn Dyer drilled a 3 of his own to pull the Crimson Hawks within single digits (38-29) for the first time since the 14:56 mark.
IUP came into the game with an 8-2 record when trailing at the half this season, but that reputation couldn’t be upheld against the nation’s No. 1 team.
Photo Credit: IUP Athletics