LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Top-ranked Indiana (Pa.) didn’t want another early exit from the NCAA Division II tournament.
Derrick Freeman’s two baskets during an 8-1 run early in the second half sparked the Indians to a 90-79 victory over Central Missouri in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
``It’s a tough feeling to have a great season end in the Elite Eight,″ said Indiana coach Kurt Kanaskie. ``We were here last year and know. Today was an example of how we defend. Overall, we played pretty well.″
In last season’s tourney, Indiana fell to eventual champion Cal-Bakersfield 87-69 in the quarterfinals.
Indiana’s defense held Central Missouri to 41 percent (29-for-70) shooting from the field, considerably lower than the 51 percent it was shooting for the season.
Indiana (29-1), the East Region champion, will play No. 6 California-Riverside (25-5), a 71-58 winner over Morningside, in Thursday’s semifinals.
Central Missouri (24-8) opened the second half on Tyrone Latimer’s jumper to close to 41-38, but Freeman sparked the 8-1 run and Indiana gradually pulled away, increasing the margin to 65-53.
``I didn’t think we played with the defensive intensity we needed to in the first half,″ said Freeman. ``We dug down deep and played harder in the second half. We didn’t want the season to end.″
Central Missouri mounted one more rally, going on a 9-2 spurt behind Bryan Mannon’s two layups, to slice the margin to 67-62 with 7:40 to go.
But Indiana met the challenge with a 14-4 spurt, building an 81-67 cushion as Yancy Taylor made eight free throws in the run.
``When we cut it to five we had a real good shot,″ said Central Missouri coach Bob Sunvold. ``Then we made a turnover and a foul, and the game turned right there. The thing that hurt us is that we got into foul trouble and weren’t able to defend inside.″
Freeman finished with 19 points, followed by Robert Misenko’s 18. Jason Bullock and Taylor had 17 apiece for Indiana. Freeman also pulled down 17 rebounds as Indiana gained a 47-35 advantage on the boards.
Central Missouri, the South Central Region winner, was led by Tyrone Latimer’s 30 points.
``They had a good game plan where they shut down the passing lanes,″ said Central Missouri guard Chris Smith. ``We didn’t get into the pace we wanted to in this game.″