SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (12/27/13) – Senior Mike Burton nailed a game-winning three in the closing seconds and led all scorers with 17 points as the Kean University men's basketball team topped Marion University 50-48 in the opening round of the Charles Zimmerman Memorial Classic on Friday in Springfield, Ohio. The Cougars will advance to the Championship Game of the tournament tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Ali Mix had 11 points for Kean, and Kyle Latorre came off the bench to lead the team in rebounds with 11. Xavier Fuller (pictrued left) also had a solid game for the Cougars with six points and nine boards.
Both teams shot exactly the same from the floor (20-for-57), but the difference came at the free-throw-line. More specifically, not at the free-throw line for the Knights, who did not attempt a single shot from the charity stripe in the game while the Cougars committed just six personal fouls all night.
Marian was ahead 12-4 in the first five minutes, and led for most of the opening period. But the Knights stalled in the waning moments of the first half, and Kean scored four of the period's last five buckets (all layups) to take a 22-21 lead at the break. In fact, throughout the game, the Cougars were able to consistently generate points in the paint; 18 of Kean's 20 field goals were layups, tip-ins or three-pointers.
In the second half, the teams switched roles. Kean led by as many as nine points after Burton hit a layup with 9:16 to go in the game. But the Knights kept scoring and battled back to tie the game at 45.
In the closing two minutes, Aaron Evans hit a trey that gave Marion a 48-45 advantage. It was the first lead for the Knights in the second half.
On the next Kean possession, the Cougars missed a potential game-tying three, but Fuller was there to tip in the rebound and cut the lead down to one with 1:08 to go. With Marion holding possession, the Knights ran 36 seconds off the clock but Kean finally forced a turnover and got the ball back down one point and with 30 seconds remaining.
The ball came out from Fuller to Burton behind the arc, and the senior rose up and hit his third three-pointer of the night to put Kean back in the lead with 16 seconds to go.
Though Marion was able to squeeze two possessions into those final 16 seconds, Emmanuel Omowole came up with a steal at the end to seal the win for the Cougars, who are now 6-2 on the year. It is just the second loss of the season for Marion, which falls to 5-2.
Kean had 11 points off turnovers and did not concede any in the game. The Cougars also dominated the points in the paint (26-16) and second-chance points (11-2) and shot a healthy 45.5 percent from three-point land.
Kean advances to Saturday's 7 p.m. Championship Match against the winner of Friday's Wittenberg College and Grove City College matchup, also at 7 p.m.