Queens falls short in Final Four

Ike Agusi with the basketball

Queens men’s basketball’s memorable NCAA tournament run came to an end early Friday morning, after losing to the Northern State Wolves in double overtime, 105-99. With the loss, Queens exited the competition falling just one game short of a national title birth.

Queens led by 11 in the first half, but Northern State chipped it down to four by halftime and seized the lead almost immediately in the second half. The lead changed hands twelve times throughout the entirety of the game. With about 10 seconds left in regulation, Queens held a one point lead when they fouled Wolves’ big man Logan Doyle, bringing him to the line for free throws. Doyle made one and missed one, a fortunate break for Queens, who failed to answer as time expired.

Once again, with seconds left in the first overtime Queens was on top, holding a five point lead. Northern State’s DJ Pollard was fouled shooting a three. He went to the line and made the first two free throws and missed the third, but the Wolves grabbed the rebound and swung it back around to him for another three point attempt. This one was good, giving him five points in four seconds and tying the game up. Queens got the ball back with a chance to win, but point guard Ike Agusi’s shot was blocked by Pollard.

When the second overtime began, Northern State scored nine more unanswered points to yank the game out of reach, a sour end to a back and forth game.

Agusi led the team with 27 points, a career high. Jalin Alexander added 20 more, and Lewis Diankulu contributed 19. In all, five players scored over ten points. Todd Withers was not one of them. He scored a single point and fouled out of the game in the first overtime.

Fouls were a consistent problem for Queens. They committed 30 in total, including the two that cost them the lead in both regulation and the first overtime. Twice, they held the game in their hands and threw it out the window.

A bevy of those fouls were on Doyle, who shot 12 of 17 from the line. Doyle’s aggression in the paint and vast height forced Queens to remove players from the perimeter to help cover him, which led to a lot of fouls and a lot of open looks at three pointers for Northern State to capitalize off of.

Capitalize they did. The Wolves shot 11 of 20 from the three point line, including some that contributed to a 14-0 run through the end of the first and beginning of the second overtimes.

The run to the Final Four was the furthest a Queens Men’s Basketball team had made it since 2003.

The game was played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Northern State, already holding a reputation for its record setting crowds, was only three hours away. They bussed fans down and packed the stadium, their rowdy fans essentially making the matchup an away game for Queens.

The Royals made 35 total field goals and grabbed 37 rebounds while the Wolves had 33 field goals and 36 rebounds. Queens also forced 19 turnovers while committing 15. Northern State had 20 assists to Queens’ 11 and six blocks to Queens’ three.

Ian Smith led the Wolves with 22 points. Darin Peterka added 20.

Queens now looks towards next season, where they will have to account for the loss of four starters to graduation: Withers, Agusi, Alexander and Mike Davis. Reserves Daryl White, Tate Small, and Josh Van Weezep also graduate, leaving some holes for Head Coach Bart Lundy to look to fill over the offseason.

Image courtesy of Queens Athletics.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.