The Warriors blew a 17-point lead in WHAC championship to the University of Michigan-Dearborn
Coach Klint Pleasant had mentioned earlier in the season, that this team was the youngest team he has had, and he felt that they had shown with all of the close games that they could play with anyone.
The Men’s basketball team ended the regular season at 16-14, with seven of those games being within five points. This had given the Warriors the number six seed in the conference tournament. With an opening round match-up on the road against Aquinas.
The teams had split the season series, as Rochester College had taken the first game and Aquinas taking the most recent match-up. This set up a great opening round match-up, which took place on Feb. 21.
In another thrilling match-up between the two schools, the number three seed Aquinas got off to a little better start to the game shooting almost 60 percent from the field. Yet, RC held in there and only remained down by three heading to the break at 37-34. In the second half, it was the Warriors that shot better in the second half. While both teams nearly shot the same from the field, it was from behind the three-point arc that separated the two teams. While Aquinas could only shoot nine percent from behind the arc going 1-11. The Warriors shot a respectable 36 percent going 7-19. Which in the end, proved to be the spark to propel them to a 71-65 win. Which would advance the Warriors to the second round.
The Warriors then would have to face the number two seed Indiana Institute of Technology on the road. Indiana Tech had taken down the number seven seed Siena Heights to move on to the second round. RC had dropped the two previous meetings to Indiana Tech, the latest match-up being a two-point loss.
The battle of the warriors started off very well for Rochester College. The men started off shooting over 50 percent from the field and going 8-12 from behind the three-point arc. This led to a 40-28 halftime lead. The good shooting night continued in the second half, as RC was able to hold off the comeback by shooting over 50 percent from the field again. RC was able to pull out an 84-68 upset over the Indiana Tech Warriors and claim a spot in the championship game. All five starters for RC were in double digits for scoring, led by Armand Cartwright, sophomore guard from Bloomfield, who had 26 points.
The magical run continued in Rochester’s first WHAC conference tournament and they would play for the championship. With making it to the finals, they had already locked up a spot in the NAIA national tournament, now all that was left was to bring the trophy home. The Warriors would face the number four seed of University of Michigan-Dearborn. The Wolverines had knocked off the number one seed of Cornerstone and the number five seed of Madonna. Both programs were in their first championship game and looking for their first championship. The Warriors had lost their two regular season meetings against them, one of them being a three-point loss.
Once again, the Warriors had a good shooting night and it started in the first half, where they shot 42 percent compared to 30 percent for the Wolverines. This gave the Warriors a six-point lead heading into halftime. The Warriors went on a 17-7 run coming out of halftime. The Warriors had at one point a 15-point lead. With five minutes remaining in the game, the Wolverines that started their 14-0 run which would eventually lead to a tie game as the clock expired. The wolverines came into to overtime and continued the control they had in the game and outscored the Warriors 19-11. That would seal up University of Michigan-Dearborn’s first championship and end RC’s magical run through the conference tournament.
The men will now look to the USCAA national championship to start another Cinderella story to a national championship this time.