3-10-07 - Jason Stampley had it right.
It was the play of the game, but it didn't specifically kickstart a run nor did it help Southeastern Oklahoma State surge ahead of Emporia State Saturday night in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional at Multipurpose Building on the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
The Savage had already done each of those things when Stampley dove headfirst through the cheerleaders crashing through the fencing along the baselane, while feeding a perfect strike for a Matt White for layup.
"I think that's why we won the game today," Stampley said. "We didn't have any energy whatsoever in the first half. I think that was the play of the game. Not because I did it, but because it helped us win the game."
The energy is what helpe d the Savage Storm reel off mini runs of 13-0, 9-0 and 6-0 to feed a larger 28-4 avalanche allowing Southeastern to come away with a 79-66 win.
"Every loose ball has to be our's from here on out," Stampley said. "I just had to go get it."
The Savage Storm will face Midwestern State for the third time this year Sunday night at 5 p.m. for the right advance to the South Central Regional Championship game Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
But Southeastern didn't have the momentum in the first half as Emporia State used a deliberate attack allowing the Hornets to forge a 31-26 halftime lead.
"The tape that we watched, they were up and down the floor and pretty guard oriented," SOSU coach Tony Robinson said. "They really distributed the ball well tonight. They went inside. They went outside. They would dribble penetrate, catch you in rotations and hit a 3. I thought they really played well, but I did not expect that."
And the Savage Storm were a little taken back by the surrounding in their first NCAA Division II national tournament appearance and first appearance in a national tournament of any kind since 1997.
"I don't want to make any excuses, but I thought we were a little bit tight, a little bit heavy legged in the first half. We were just a half-step behind," Robinson said. "I thought we were nervous and made bad decisions."
It wasn't that way in the second half.
After Donta Wilson hit a 3-pointer to give Emporia State its largest lead of the night 1:30 into the second half at 34-28, the Savage Storm responded with layups by Matt White and Kyric Rambo sandwiched around a pair of Eric Babers free throws to knot the game at 34-34.
That was just a taste of things to come.
"That's what I kept telling the guys," Stampley said. "Let's work hard to tie the score up at least, then we can get anything we want. We had to work hard to at least get the score where we wanted it."
Southeastern erupted for 13-straight as five different players scored points push the Savage Storm advantage to 52-42 with 8:03 to go.
Rambo played a key role in the second half by scoring 10 of his 13 points off of the bench including back-to-back 3's that helped the Savage Storm sustain a 22-2 run over a six-minute stretch that became a 28-4 deluge after Stampley connected on his third 3-pointer of the game with 4:05 to go.
Babers notched his 16th double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds while dishing out five more assists.
White added 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds, while Steve Harrel contributed an all-around effort with 10 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.