By Staff Report
Kenny Manigault had made the shot so many times it felt like a sure thing, but the senior’s runner in the lane rolled off the rim as time expired and UPIKE lost to Talladega (Ala.) 64-62 in the quarterfinals of the NAIA national tournament.
Manigault’s final performance in a UPIKE uniform was one to be proud of. He paced the team with 20 points, pulled down seven rebounds and added two steals, two assists and a block. K.K. Simmons joined him in double figures with 19 points, including three 3-pointers, and Michael Eneh had a game-high 11 rebounds.
With 6:17 to go in the first half, the Bears trailed by two at 22-20, but starting off with another Simmons three, the Bears were ready to run.
It ended up being nine straight points for UPIKE, including a long jumper from Simmons and two free throws from Christian Leach, to take a 29-22 lead. It was still a seven-point lead with 2:15 on the clock at 33-26, but the Tornadoes kept themselves in it with a 5-2 spurt to end the half.
Colt Chapman made one free throw with 1:55 to play to go up by five at 62-57. That’s when Courtney Mack made two big plays for the Tornadoes, finishing a layup and then connecting on a three as the shot clock expired, to tie it up at 62-62 with 44 seconds remaining.
Manigault got a good look from three in the final 30 seconds, but it missed the mark, and Wendell Pierre’s jumper in the paint barely rolled in to put Talladega in front 64-62 with 3.8 seconds left.
Each team took a three-point lead over the next six minutes until Manigault gave the Bears some breathing room at 61-57 with 2:28 on the clock. Chapman’s free throw briefly made it five.
UPIKE ends the 2014-15 season with a 28-6 record, while Talladega advances with a 32-4 mark.