(Courtesy SWAC Media Relations)
DAYTON, Ohio – Robert Champion’s tie-breaking three pointer with 55 seconds left and 19 points proved to be the difference as Holy Cross ended Southern’s season with a 59-55 victory in the First Four on Wednesday night in the UD Arena.
Southern, the champions from the Southwestern Athletic Conference finished the season 22-13 after its first NCAA tournament trip in four years. The Jaguars fell to No. 1 seed Gonzaga during the 2012-13 season.
Southern’s leading scorer Adrian Rodgers scored just two points in the first half and his team trailed 27-22 at halftime. Early in the second half, he scored seven quick points to give the Jaguars their first lead at 29-28 as the Crusaders went nearly four minutes without a field goal.
Rodgers went to the bench after committing his third foul and Holy Cross opened a 38-33 lead.
That’s when Chris Hyder made his presence felt. Twice he made steals and converted layups to get Southern within a point. Then he made a jumper and passed to Chris Thomas for a layup. Rashad Andrews added a free throw and the Jaguars had their biggest lead at 42-38 as Rodgers returned with 8:42 left.
Champion and Karl Charles made three pointers as the Crusaders regained the lead at 48-46 with three minutes left.
Shawn Prudhomme answered with a three pointer, but Charles made both ends of a one-and-one and Champion made two free throws to give Holy Cross a three-point lead.
Trelun Banks tied it with a three pointer, but Champion answered with a trey of his own with 55 seconds left.
After Prudhomme missed a jumper, Cullen Hamilton made two free throws to give the Crusaders a five-point lead with 27 seconds left.
Rodgers sanked another three ball with 23 seconds left, but Champion’s two free throws completed the scoring nine seconds later.
Southern’s top two scorers – Rodgers and Banks – both missed time because of two first-half fouls apiece, but the bench provided a lift.
Prudhomme scored seven points, Thomas had three and Rashad Andrews two as Jaguars bench outscored the team’s starters 12-10.
Hyder fed Jared Sam for a layup and he added a steal and a layup as Southern finished the half on a 13-7 run.
Despite scoring a season-low 22 first-half points, the Jaguars trailed by just five points at halftime.
The Patriot League tournament champion Crusaders (15-19) will play No. 1 West regional seed Oregon Friday night in Spokane, Wash.
Southern’s last NCAA Tournament victory came against Georgia Tech in 1993.