The Cornerstone Golden Eagles flew through some rare air on their way to the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament title on Tuesday night to defeat the Aquinas Saints 65-51 at Mol Arena.
Cory Cox found his stroke from deep, connecting on seven three-pointers, on his way to a game-high 31 points and WHAC Player of the Year Kyle Steigenga pulled down 13 rebounds, despite scoring only six points, in the win for the NAIA’s #2-ranked team in the nation.
After starting the game as though they’d just jumped in nearby Pickett Hall pond, the Golden Eagles shot just 3-of-20 over the first 14 minutes of the game, the tables turned on the Saints as the clock neared the half. Cornerstone went on a late 8-0 run to grab the lead and take a 29-24 advantage into the half.
“We didn’t want anyone else cutting down our nets but us,” – Senior Cory Cox
After the break, Aquinas cut the lead to three but watched the Golden Eagles do what they do, going on a 20-4 run to take a commanding lead that would stick for the rest of the night. Cox’s three-pointer was the spark that lit the fire of that run. Jake Bullock, who led the Saints charge with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists, helped Aquinas go on a 10-0 run of their own to cut the lead to just eight points (58-50) with just under six minutes remaining. Michael Bradshaw, who was the star of the semi-final matchup with UM-Dearborn, connected from behind the arc and Cox added his seventh deep bomb as coach Kim Elders’ team pulled the hearts of the chest of the Saints’ adoring fans.
Wednesday, both teams will find out who their next opponent will be, as the 2017 NAIA DII National Tournament selection show takes place at 7 p.m. EST.
The tournament runs from March 8-14 on the campus of the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.