POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – Tyrone Sherman (SR/Chicago Heights, Ill.) scored on a driving layup with 13.0 seconds left, and top-seeded Union College held strong defensively as time expired to escape with the 83-82 victory over No. 5 seed College of Idaho in the second round of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship on Friday.
The Bulldogs (32-3 overall) advance to the quarterfinal round for the first time in program history as they extend their win streak to 30 games.
"Is it over?," said head coach Kevin Burton following the game. "You quite possibly saw the two best teams in this tournament. If not the two best, certainly two of the best. I'm super proud of our guys with the way they battled. It was dripping off of them how badly they wanted to win.
"There's not a lot of technicalities to talk about," he continued. "This was an old-school, emotional, grind out, ball up and play (type of game)."
Neither team held a sizable lead throughout. The lead changed hands 16 times and the score was tied on eight occasions. Union's largest lead was 10, while College of Idaho's was only four.
Despite the high number of lead changes, Union led for the majority of the game and for the near entirety of second half. Yet, the Bulldogs could not put the Yotes (24-10 overall) away. Paul Stone (SR/Danville, Va.) scored with 12:39 remaining to put Union up 65-55.
But College of Idaho began to whittle away at the margin, especially as time was running out. Down 79-71 at the 2:33 mark, Dominique Jordan hit three free throws and Aitor Zubizarreta added a 3-pointer to slice the margin to 79-77 with 1:34 remaining.
Following a Sherman bucket, Union led by four, but Zubizarreta completed an old-fashioned, three-point play to pull the Yotes within 81-80 with 1:03 to go. Sherman was fouled with 35 seconds on the clock but missed both free throws. Zubizarreta seized the opportunity and scored in the paint, lifting College of Idaho to an 82-81 lead with 21.4 seconds to play.
Wasting no time, Union moved the ball down the floor quickly as Sherman scored on a driving layup, sending the Bulldogs in front 83-82 with 13.0 seconds still to go. Following a timeout, the Yotes played for the last shot before losing the handle of the ball, which was deflect out of bounds by the Bulldogs with 2.1 remaining.
College of Idaho got the ball in to guard Emanuel Morgan, who drove the lane, but his shot rimmed out to seal the 83-82 Union win.
Sherman finished the game with 22 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Most impressive was his bounce back following missing the free throws with 35 seconds to play. Burton, though, said his teammates kept their faith in the point guard.
"He was distraught after (missing the free throws), but he bounces back," Burton said. "You should've heard his teammates. About seven of his teammates simultaneously telling him, 'we need ya.' And as fate would have it, the ball comes back to him and he makes the game winner."
Stone paced the Bulldogs with 27 points, and Jaylen Daniel (SR/Winchester, Ky.) added 16 points.
For the Yotes, Zubizarreta sank 9-of-13 shots in netting 21 points with Morgan and Joey Nebeker adding 17 apiece.
Union returns to action on Saturday as it faces Trinity International (Ill.) at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. CT. Trinity International won a nail-biter as well, edging Taylor (Ind.) 74-72.