Photo by Seth Nichols
(UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich.) – Walsh became the third No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the GLIAC Tournament with a 91-85 victory over nationally ranked No. 19 Saginaw Valley Tuesday evening. The Cavaliers (15-12) will now advance to the GLIAC semifinals a third consecutive year, the only team to do so.
The Cavs received a big night out of senior guard Jesse Hardin Jr. as he scored a game-high 34 points and was 12-of-22 from the field. He was 7-of-13 from behind the arc and, along with Trey Fletcher and Chall Montgomery, pulled down seven rebounds.
Hardin Jr. went off in the second half as he was 9-of-12 and made all five of his triple attempts for 24 points. Three of those came on consecutive possessions late in the game as Walsh staved off a Cardinals' comeback attempt. After the first of those, Saginaw Valley came within five points after a layup and free throw on a foul made the score 68-63 with 5:20 to go in the game.
After Hardin Jr.'s second triple, SVSU missed a long ball attempt of its own. His third gave Walsh a 74-63 lead, its largest of the game, and forced the Cardinals to call a timeout and regroup.
It started a string of eight consecutive shots and six-straight successful free throw attempts.
Both teams shot particularly well. Walsh was 32-of-60 overall for 53.3 percent while Saginaw Valley was 33-of-60 for 55 percent. It's only the third time in a game this season in which the team with the worst shooting percentage won. The good thing for Walsh is that it is now 9-1 when shooting over 50 percent.
The Cavs' perimeter shooting also helped as they made 11 3-pointers in the game.
Three of them came from Montgomery as he scored a career high 20 points. Zac Carter added 16 points with six assists. Fletcher tallied 15 points to round out the Walsh double-figure scorers.
C.J. Turnage led the Cardinasl with 31 points and was 12-of-15 from the field.
The men's basketball team will join the women's team in Ashland for the semifinals. It will look to advance to its first conference championship game since it joined the GLIAC as it takes on Hillsdale with a start time to be announced on Wednesday.