Matt Thomas, Sports Information Director
MARYVILLE, Mo.– A Kevin Buckinghamthree at the buzzer in regulation would send Seventh-Seeded Southeastern to overtime where it would outscore No. 2 seed Northern State 26-14 on its way to a 115-103 upset victory in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Central Regional in Maryville, Mo.
The win lifts the Savage Storm to 23-7 overall on the season and advances them to the Central Region Semifinals where they will face No. 6 seed Missouri Southern State who upset third-seeded Washburn 101-100 in the tournament’s opening game.
The Semifinal contest is set for 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 in Maryville, Mo.
“I’m 56 years old and I’ve been doing this since I was like 22,” said head coach Kelly Green. “I have never seen anything like that in my life. We couldn’t stop them. They just kept hitting shot after shot. It’s funny, we knew we had to get over 80 or hold them under 80 to have a chance but we just couldn’t stop them. Everybody kept hitting threes and a couple of our guys didn’t have their best games.
“I go back and I watch film after wins and losses to figure out what happened,” he continued. “I’ve got no idea what happened, he [pointing at Buckingham] just started making shots. We played an outstanding team. They are so difficult to guard, they’re physical and they run their stuff so well. Coach has obviously been there before, national runners-up. I’m kind of without speech.”
Southeastern stared down a 13-point deficit at 83-70 with 2:12 to play in regulation when Adam Dworskyconnected on a jumper to kick off a 10-0 run that closed the gap to 83-80 with 1:26 to play in the second half.
NSU would answer that run with a bucket, but a Kayo Goncalvesthree would close the gap to 85-83 with 1:02 remaining in regulation.
The Wolves followed with a three and added a free throw with 21 seconds to go before Buckingham connected on a three with 17 ticks remaining and ultimately his game tying three at the buzzer to send the game to overtime tied at 89-89.
The Storm scored first in OT on a Jett Jobelayup and opened the frame on a 7-1 run to take a 96-90 lead at the 3:28 mark of overtime.
NSU answered with a three to cut the SE lead in half, but the Storm responded with an 8-0 run on a pair of Dworsky buckets and a 4-for-4 effort at the free throw line by Buckingham to go up 104-93.
A 6-1 Wolves run would close the advantage to six points with 1:00 to play, but that was as close as it would get as Southeastern would outscore NSU 10-4 in the final minute to pull away with the 115-103 victory.
Buckingham posted a career-high 43 points in the win, hitting 15-of-20 from the field and going 5-of-6 from beyond the arc to lead all scorers.
Dworsky added a career-high of his own, dropping 32 points on 13-of-19 shooting with a pair of threes.
Kellen Manekfinished the game with 15 points, while Jett Jobeadded 12 and Goncalves chipped in eight off the bench.
SE finished the contest shooting 58.1 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc, draining 11-of-23 threes.
Dworsky just missed a double-double with nine assists as the Storm finished with 16 as a team.
Buckingham and Manek each finished just short of a double-double as well as each hauled in nine rebounds on the day as the Storm pulled down 36 rebounds on the contest as a team.
SE scored first in the contest and both teams came out trading punches with four ties and four lead changes over the first five minutes before NSU pulled out to a 16-11 lead at the 13:23 mark.
A 10-3 SE run would erase that gap and the Storm would take a 21-19 lead on a Manek bucket with 11:09 to go in the half.
The Wolves would regain the lead, but SE would recover to tie the game at 27-27 on a Dworsky layup with 7:25 to go.
NSU would follow with 11-straight points and outscore the Storm 21-8 over the final seven minutes to lead at the break 48-35.
That was as wide as the margin would get as Southeastern chipped away at the deficit early in the second half, getting it to single digits four times before a run pushed the deficit back to 13 points with 9:13 to play in regulation.
A 7-0 SE run powered by Dworsky and Buckingham would get the Storm rally moving at the 7:42 mark and a Buckingham layup at the 5:39 mark would close the gap to 73-68 with 5:39 to go in the second half.
However, another NSU run would stretch the deficit back to 13 points with 2:12 to play, setting up the late game heroics.
Buckingham would account for 14 points over the final two minutes of regulation to power the Storm rally, including his buzzer beating three to send the game to overtime.
Dworsky would finish OT with nine points while Buckingham added eight as the Storm tallied 26 points in OT alone, the highest overtime output since matching the NCAA DII record for points in an OT session with 28 against Harding during the 2016-17 season.