# 7 Shaw Downs Wheeling Jesuit 92-68 To Advance to Regional Finals
With the win, the seventh-ranked Bears improve to 27-3 on the season while Wheeling Jesuit finishes their season 22-10.
Shaw dominated in all aspects of the game, shooting over 54 percent, pulling in 39 rebounds to WJU's 31, and forcing 20 turnovers while committing only ten.
"We executed our game plan," said Shaw head coach Cleo Hill, Jr. "We wanted to get the ball inside and I think we did that well. We thought we might wear them down, and I think we did."
The Bears played a smothering defense that held the Cardinals 20 points below their 88.4 points per game average, and holding their leading scorer, Steve Catlich, nine points below his average on the season.
"We've been spurt-y on the defensive side of the ball," said Hill. "We've had about four really strong defensive halves this season, and the first half of tonight's game was one of them."
Midway through the first half, no one could have anticipated the eventual blowout. With 10:10 left in the first, Josh Valentic gave Wheeling Jesuit a three-point, 15-12, lead. The Cardinals would not score again for five minutes and 15 seconds.
In that timeframe, Shaw scored 19 points, ending with Devon Mclendon's jumper off an assist from Tony Smith that gave Shaw a 31-15 lead with 5:33 to go.
Shaw closed out the half outscoring the Cardinals 9-5 to take a 20-point lead into the locker room.
It took Wheeling Jesuit less than five minutes of the second half to trim that 20-point lead down to nine. With 15:22 showing on the clock, WJU's Obi Ukwuoma hit a jumper off an assist from Ben Siefert made the score 45-36 and brought the large Cardinal contingent to their feet.
"We got lax," said Hill. "They came out ready to play. When you have only 64 teams in a tournament, they're all going to be good and they all will have had to battle through adversity. They were no different. They played hard."
Still up nine with 14:16 left, the Bears went on another run and again took control of the game. Karron Johnson started the streak with a jumper off a feed from Malik Alvin that started a 20-3 streak. When Mclendon hit a three from the right wing, he extended the Shaw lead to 26 at 67-41.
With 5:04 left in the game, Alvin hit a pair of free throws to give the Bears a 78-46 lead. In the next minute, Colin Barth hit four three-point shots. By the time he hit the fourth, Shaw led by only 20, 80-60.
Smith again found Johnson to rebuild the Shaw lead to 20.
"Both of these guys are NBA-level players," Hill said. "Karron is sacrificing part of his game by moving inside and he's handled that well. And Tony runs our offense, it's as simple as that."
The two teams would all but exchange buckets the rest of the way, with Shaw coming away with the 92-68 victory.
Johnson finished the game with 22 points and six rebounds. Hines, who averages 6.6 points per game, finished the contest with 18. Smith finished three rebounds shy of a triple-double with 13 points, ten assists and seven boards, which led the Bears. Alvin finished the contest with 13 points.
Barth finished the game with 17 points while Catich had 12 and Recardo Gaddy and Marquis Moore had ten apiece.
Shaw now advances to the Atlantic Regional Final where they will take on host and top seeded West Liberty who defeated West Virginia Wesleyan 99-69. The Hilltoppers, ranked third in the nation, knocked Shaw out of last year's NCAA Tournament in what locals call one of the best games ever played at the West Liberty gym. The Regional Final is Tuesday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m.