Hutchinson, Kansas -- A determined second-half comeback attempt came up short and the Indian Hills Warriors' stay in the 2019 NJCAA National Tournament came to an end Wednesday afternoon, Indian Hills dropping a 77-71 decision to No. 1 ranked and 5th-seeded Florida SouthWestern State.
Down by 20 points with around five minutes remaining, Indian Hills roared back to get to within four in the final minute, thanks to a tremendous performance by freshman Tyon Grant-Foster. With exactly a minute to play, Grant-Foster was fouled on a 3-point try and made all three foul shots to get the deficit to five at 69-64. Eight-and-a-half seconds later he swiped a pass, drew a foul and drained two more free throws and the Warriors again were down only five points. Following a Buccaneers free throw, Grant-Foster scored inside and the lead for Florida SouthWestern was 72-68. The Bucs broke the Warriors' press for an easy bucket and an Indian Hills 3-pointer was off the mark, allowing the Bucs to hold on for the win.
The Warriors really struggled on offense for most of the first 35 minutes of the contest. They poured in 29 points over the last five-plus minutes, the majority of them by Grant-Foster, who wound up with 25 points, bettering his previous season-high by 10. He made his last 10 free-throw attempts and was finally able to give Indian Hills the offense they were desperately searching for. The Warriors shot just 29 percent in the first half and 31 percent for the afternoon.
Despite that sub-30 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes, Indian Hills managed to stay close to the Bucs. The Warriors actually led by seven in the early-going. Florida SouthWestern turned things around with a 10-2 run, but a late-first half basket by Torrey Patton cut the margin to a single point, 28-27, at intermission.
The start of the second period proved to be a real struggle for IHCC. They had only 10 points in the first 11 1/2 minutes and didn't get their fourth bucket of the half until Iziah James nailed a three with 6:25 to play.
The Buccaneers stretched the lead to 20 on a 3-point play by Maddox Daniels and that's when the IHCC attack finally kicked in.
Charles Manning Jr. led Florida SouthWestern with 22 points and Daniels chipped in 16. Freshman guard Jalen Finch is the guy who really hurt Indian Hills though. He came into the game averaging 5.3 points and scored 15. Finch hit three straight field goals -- the final one a three -- to build the lead from eight to 15 with under nine minutes remaining.
Patton had 13 of his 18 points in the opening half -- nearly half of IHCC's total -- and he scored 48 in the two games at Hutch.
The Warriors end the year with a 27-7 record, the program's sixth straight season of at least 27 wins, to coincide with the number of consecutive trips they've made to the national tourney. In 15 visits to Hutchinson, Indian Hills is 27-17.
It was a sophomore-dominated Indian Hills team with 10 of the 13 players on the roster leaving after this season. Of the three freshmen returning, two had memorable games in the tournament -- Grant-Foster with his 25-point explosion and JD Muila, who grabbed 14 rebounds in the first-round victory against Central Georgia Tech.
FLORIDA SOUTHWESTERN 77, INDIAN HILLS 71
INDIAN HILLS (27-7)
Devontae Lane 1 2-2 5, Lance Singh 0 0-0 0, Iziah James 2 0-0 6, Nick Wagner 3 0-0 9, Tyon Grant-Foster 6 12-15 25, Josh Nicholas 1 1-3 4, Tajim Smith 0 0-0 0, JD Muila 2 0-2 4, Anthony Bratton 0 0-0 0, Tyler Chisom 0 0-0 0, Torrey Patton 6 5-7 18 Team 21 20-29 71
FLORIDA SOUTHWESTERN (30-2)
Charles Manning Jr. 9 2-3 22, Maddox Daniels 3 9-11 16, Terence Lewis 1 0-0 2, Destin Barnes 3 0-0 7, Keon Ellis 4 2-4 10, Mason Daniels 0 0-0 0, Jalen Finch 6 2-2 15, Tyler Morman 0 3-5 3, Terence Williams Jr. 0 0-2 0 Team 27 18-30 77
Halftime score: Florida SouthWestern 28, Indian Hills 27; Three-point field goals: IHCC 9 (Wagner 3, James 2, Lane 1, Grant-Foster 1, Nicholas 1, Patton 1; FSC 5 (Manning 2, Barnes 1, Mad. Daniels 1, Finch 1)