The Eastern Florida State College men's basketball team made some big plays down the stretch to defeat the State College of Florida Manatee 77-71 Thursday night in the FCSAA/NJCAA Region VIII State Tournament quarterfinals.
Nick Stampley grabbed some huge rebounds in the final two minutes and with the Titans clinging to a four-point lead, Jalen Warren stole the ball and was fouled. From there the Titans would hit four of the final six free throws to advance to the semifinals on Friday night against Chipola College.
"First of all, I just want to congratulate coach Parks. He has done an unbelievable job this year and I knew coming in this was going to be a dog fight because they are one of the better teams in the state. I am just so proud of him for the job he has done in his first year," Shulman said.
SCF Manatee came out hitting 3-pointers as they would lead almost the entire first half, led by freshman guard D'Moi Hodges who had 20 of his game-high 27 points in the first half.
Down 47-41 at halftime, the Titans came out with an aggressive defense and started hitting big shots of their own. Ayo Dada hit two 3-pointers in a row to cut the lead to two points with 13:42 remaining and then Warren made a driving basket and was fouled to give the Titans the lead, 58-57.
The Titans would keep the lead the rest of the way, picking up their 25th win of the season. Warren led the attack with 24 points and seven assists while Dada finished with 16 points and Jonathan Ned had 11 points and eight rebounds. Stampley had nine rebounds to go with five points.
"Ned did an outstanding job, with the matchups we knew we would go to him tonight and he came up big," "Stampley's rebounding was unbelievable down the stretch and Jalen just made great plays throughout the game. Defense and rebounding!"
The 18th-ranked Titans will play No. 9 Chipola College Friday night at 8 p.m. in the second semifinal at the College of Central Florida in Ocala. Chipola advanced by defeating Palm Beach State College 75-72 on Thursday.