Fort Myers Tip-Off: Southern Utah crowned Palms Division champs with win over Bowling Green
Southern Utah 87, Bowling Green 73
Todd Simon and Southern Utah were crowned the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off Palms Division champions thanks to a strong second-half performance.
The Thunderbirds outscored the Falcons 45-35 in the second half to pull away and win 87-73 over Bowling Green.
Five minutes into the first period, Thunderbird redshirt senior John Knight III went down with an apparent shoulder injury after being rolled over by a Bowling Green player. Simon would have to look towards his bench to fill in for the guard.
“Those are guys that we feel are starter-level guys,” Simon said. “The belief in team is so strong with those guys and they stay ready.”
After a highly competitive first half that saw nine lead changes, the Thunderbirds came out hot in the second half, jumping out to a 61-47 lead thanks to a gutsy performance by Knight, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
Knight, who was accompanied by family and friends gave credit to his young son for giving him the motivation to battle through the injury.
“Every time he comes, I know I have to put on a show,” said Knight, who was named the Palm Division MVP. “I got a family to feed and that’s my motivation. Whenever he’s in the crowd or whenever he’s around I know I have to go hard. I was hurting but I kept looking over there at him and it just got me through the game.”
The Thunderbirds were able to hold Bowling Green to 21% behind the 3-point line, something Simon preached to his team that would be key to victory.
“It’s one of our key staples to our defense is to limit three’s,” Simon said. “A lot of our schemes are geared to try to make a lot of contested shots.”
Daeqwon Plowden would lead the Falcons in scoring finishing with 18 points and six rebounds, one of two players in double digits for Bowling Green.
“This is an important deal,” Simon said. “These in-season tournaments help prepare for March Madness. These things help simulate that, help us get ready for quick turnarounds and our guys learn a lot from it.”
Yale 69, Milwaukee 56
The Bulldogs (4-3) earned a victory in the Palms Division consolation matchup over the Panthers (1-4), ending a two-game skid. Leading the way for Yale was senior guard Azar Swain. Swain led the attack by scoring 16 points. Michael Feinberg added 12 points and four rebounds for Yale, who gets over the .500 mark.