EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A pair of free throws by Devante Chance gave Indiana (Pa.) a 51-50 lead with 6:08 to go and the Crimson Hawks held on the rest of the way for a 69-65 win against Azusa Pacific in the Division II Elite Eight on Wednesday at the Ford Center.
With the win, the Crimson Hawks (30-6) advance to the semifinals and will play Tarleton State Thursday evening.
It was the 28th all-time NCAA tournament win for IUP while Thursday will be the program’s fourth semifinals appearance. It’s the first since 2010 when the Crimson Hawks finished the year as the national runners-up.
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Head coach Joe Lombardi is now 15-6 all-time in NCAA tournament games. He’ll be coaching in his second semifinals at IUP.
The free throws by Chance came shortly after an 8-0 run by Azusa Pacific (27-6) gave the Cougars a 48-47 lead at the 7:11 mark of the second half. Although the Crimson Hawks held the lead the remainder of the game, Azusa Pacific kept it close, never trailing by more than four points and getting the deficit back to one on four separate occasions.
A midrange jumper by Brandon Norfleet put the Crimson Hawks on top 63-60 with 2:00 left on the clock. The bucket was also a milestone for the junior guard as it represented his 1,000th career point, joining fellow backcourt mates Chance and Shawn Dyer, who have already reached the landmark.
Foul shots by Daddy Ugbede with 53 seconds remaining kept the difference at four points at 65-61, while Dyer later made 1-of-2 from the line as the Crimson Hawks held a 66-62 lead as the clock ticked under 25 seconds to play.
Azusa Pacific All-American guard Troy Leaf got the game back one as he drilled a deep, straightaway three-pointer with 11 seconds to go, as IUP held onto a 66-65 lead. The Crimson Hawks then got the ball to Chance, who made a pair from the line after he was fouled to put IUP back up by three points with under 10 seconds to play.
The Cougars last gasp three-point attempt by Leaf fell short and out-of-bounds, as Chance added one more foul shot on the other end to ice the victory for IUP.
Chance led the Crimson Hawks with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the full 40 minutes, going 8-of-10 from the foul line.
He was one of five Crimson Hawks to reach double-figures in scoring as Norfleet and Jeremy Jeffers each added 13 points apiece, while Dyer had 12 and Ugbede finished with 10.
The Crimson Hawks held the high-scoring Cougars (83.4 points per game) to 38 percent shooting, making just 6-of-26 from three-point range. Leaf finished with a game-high 29 points, but went 8-of-21 from the field, including 3-of-11 from three-point range.
IUP shot 47 percent from the floor and also out-rebounded the Cougars 38-to-28 on the night, grabbing 14 offensive boards.