The Saints (Mary's and Edward's) came marching in #1 & #2 with the Heartland only needing two victories to win the Challenge. The Heartland got two wins, but things certainly didn't go as anticipated.
Limestone 60, St Mary's 57: In a rematch of last season's NT final, this game was amazing competitive throughout. St Mary's opened up the largest lead of the game on Josh Bennett 3 with 3:33 remaining, pushing the lead to 6. Limestone takes a timeout with just under 3 minutes remaining. Whatever was said in that huddle, it worked as Limestone scored on every remaining possession while St Mary's went cold. Despite the loss, St Mary's stays at #1.
Longwood 60, St Edwards 50: Longwood played outstanding 1st half defense, holding St Edwards to 19 points, enroute to a ten point win. Longwood held St Eds to 39% shooting, but managed only 43% themselves. Longwood milked extra possessions out slim edges in rebounding, turnovers, and steals that proved to be the difference.
Valdosta St 65, Lees-McRae 52: this was a tale of two halves, as Lees ground out an impressive 9 point lead at half, holding Valdosta to 7 FGs, while shooting better than 50% themselves. The reverse was true in the second half: Lees managed 7 FGs while Valdosta went off, out scoring Lees 44-22.
And in the final deciding game of the Challenge (because I get to create self-importance by doing the summaries):
incarnate Word 78, Coker 55: in a game the oddsmakers set at a one point spread, IW went off early and never looked back, holding a 20 point lead at half. Coker's small ball attack wasn't hitting, going 4 of 21 from deep. IW collected those misses, out rebounding Coker 46-28.
There's something about this IW team. They've had a couple of inexplicable performances (which i guess you get only having one senior) but they are dangerous. Perhaps after last night, coach has finally settled on a lineup.