KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Wendell Pierre scored the game-winning basket with four seconds remaining to give No. 2-seeded Talladega (Ala.) a 64-62 win over No. 7-seeded Pikeville (Ky.), Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Tournament.
The Tornadoes will face No. 6-seeded Dalton State (Ga.), an 80-76 overtime winner over Cal State San Marcos.
“Our team was well aware coming into this matchup against a premier team in Pikeville the game was going to come down to who had the most toughness, heart and desire to advance,” said Talladega head coach Matt Cross. “I think our guys demonstrated those qualities for 40 minutes today.
“We are excited about punching our ticket to the Fab Four and I know these young men are still hungry and believe they can take their games to an even higher level the next time we step on the floor in Municipal.”
Talladega (32-4) scored the final seven points of the game to earn the first Fab Four berth in the program’s history after trailing 62-57 with 1:55 remaining.
Courtney Mack started the finishing stretch with a bucket in the paint at the 1:37 mark, then hit a three-pointer on the right wing with 44 seconds to play.
Kenny Manigault missed a three-pointer on the next possession for Pikeville, setting up Pierre for the game-winning shot. Manigault also got the last shot attempt for the Bears, but was unable to convert a game-tying attempt.
After trailing 35-31 at the half, Talladega opened the second half with a 14-2 run inside the first five minutes for its biggest lead of the game, 45-37. Manigault scored the first points of the second half before Pierre got the Tornadoes going with a bucket inside, and Brandon Peters finished off the opening run with a three-pointer.
Pikeville provided an immediate response, putting together a 13-2 spurt over the next 4:13 to regain the lead, 50-47. Both teams held the lead over the next eight minutes with Colt Chapman scoring the final point for the Bears, converting the second of two free throws.
Both teams shot 40 percent from the field and converted 24 field goals, with Pikeville recording one more shot attempt. The Tornadoes held a 7-5 edge in three-point connections and both teams hit nine free throws. Pikeville held a 43-34 rebounding advantage, but committed 10 turnovers to just six for Talladega.
“We had a great year and I am proud of these kids,” said Cal State San Marcos head coach Jim Saia. “We had a phenomenal experience.”
Shondel Stewart led all scorers with 22 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists for Talledega. Peters finished with 13 points and four rebounds, while Pierre tallied nine points, four rebounds and four assists.
Manigault posted 20 points and seven rebounds for Pikeville, while K.K. Simmons added 19 points and Michael Eneh added a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bears.
NAIA Media Relations