Tiffin University 74, Millikin University 72
Tiffin holds on to defeat Millikin 74-72 in opening contest of McDonald's Holiday Tournament
By Bill Hanefeld Jr., sports information director
December 29, 2005
The opening game in the McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Tournament was an exciting contest that featured two extremely athletic teams that were determined not to play in the consolation finals on Friday afternoon. After seeing a 10-point lead at the midway point of the second half disintegrate, Tiffin (9-2) hit three free throws in the final 20 seconds to secure a 74-72 victory over the Big Blue from Millikin (8-6).
The Tiffin Dragons and Millikin Big Blue traded scores through the first seven minutes of the opening contest until the 11:47 mark of the first half when Lamont Ellis sparked an 11-2 Tiffin run with his first of two trifectas on the night giving the Dragons a 27-19 lead at the 9:49 mark. James Ball gave Tiffin its largest lead of the first half when he hit from in the paint to put the Dragons up 31-21. Millikin continued to remain aggressive as Mike Gavic hit consecutive treys to trim the Tiffin advantage to five with two and a half minutes to play in the first half. A layup by Dragon Ryan Frasier sent Tiffin to the lockerroom with a 44-38 lead.
Back-to-back Millikin dunks, one by Korte Long and the other by Lance Brooks, allowed the Big Blue to cut the Tiffin advantage to four points before the Dragons went on an 8-2 run to push their lead back to 10 points midway through the final stanza. Five straight points from Long helped Millikin close the gap to three (61-58) with eight and a half minutes to play. Dominating Dragon post Ryan Pessel then went back to work on the low block and found the hoop giving Tiffin a 66-58 lead with just over seven minutes left in the game. The Big Blue continued to push the ball inside and finally took the lead (70-69) for the first time in the second half when Brooks rattled the rim for his second dunk of the night. Drew Gensler gave Millikin a three point cushion with just over a minute to play when he knocked down two foul shots. The Dragons forced three turnovers during the final 30 seconds of the game and converted three shots from the charity stripe following a Hernandez Skiver jumper to knock off Millikin 74-72 and advance to the finals of the McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Tournament at 3 p.m. on Friday, December 30, 2005. They will lock horns with the host Bluffton Beavers who won convincingly over the Indiana University East Pioneers 106-79.
Pessel led the victors with 22 points and hauled in six rebounds. Skiver finished with 18 points on 6-10 shooting, recorded four steals and dished out three assists. Ellis also hit double digits as he scored 10 points and tallied seven rebounds and seven assists. Ryan Frasier led the Dragons with eight boards and two blocks.