PARK HILLS — Three Rivers was giving defending Division II National Champion Triton all it could handle for 24 minutes Friday. The Raiders led by 15 points with just over 16 minutes remaining in the game, but Triton stormed back with a 19-4 run to tie things up at 65 with 11:36 remaining. The Trojans' offense wasn't done there, outscoring the Raiders 54-29 in the last 16 minutes to hand Three Rivers its second straight loss, 100-90. The Raiders started out hot before fizzing out midway through the second half. Triton didn't take its first lead until Najee Brown-Henderson made a layup out of a post move to give his team a 67-65 lead with 10:49 to go in the game. "They pressed us, and we had some stretches where we got really sped up and started throwing the ball all around," assistant coach Brian Bess said. Twelve seconds later, redshirt freshman Aaron Tait connected on a 3-pointer to give the Raiders the lead back, but it was short lived. Alondes Williams, who will be playing ball for the Oklahoma Sooners next season, used the glass to finish a layup for two of his 28 points, putting the Trojans back on top for good. The 6-foot, 5-inch, 220-pound sophomore also tallied 15 rebounds and six assists on the night. "He's really talented. Even when he missed, he would battle and go get an offensive rebound and stick it back in," Bess said. He was hard to guard and really talented." Moments later, Terry Durham stole the ball from Chris Stocks but missed a shot on the ensuing break, but Quinlan Bennett was there for a putback. Sophomore guard Tristan Jarrett pulled Three Rivers back within a point with a left-handed layup off the glass, but Williams raised him a layup by switching hands in the air for the finish in traffic. The back-and-forth action turned one-sided when Triton created separation with an 11-2 run. Williams dished to sophomore Devin Blake, who nailed a triple to put the Trojans up five with 7:46 remaining. Williams kept feeding his teammates. He passed inside to Bennett on the next possession, who banked in a layup and forced a timeout from the Raiders. Williams continued his takeover with a floater inside for two more, and Bennett put the Trojans up by double digits for the first time with a putback off a missed 3 by BrownHenderson. The Raiders finished the game minus-11 on the glass. The Trojans finished with 25 offensive rebounds and 24 defensive rebounds. "Tristan came out for about a two-minute break, and that really hurt us," Bess said. "We have to be able to have depth." Jarrett stopped the run with a much-needed four points for Three Rivers. He drained a 3 in the corner off a pass from redshirt freshman Khalil Johnson. After a technical foul was called on Williams, Jarrett split a pair at the charity stripe to pull the Raiders within seven. Freshman Jalen Shaw was fouled by sophomore Willie Lucas, though, and the Trojans were in the bonus. The 6-10 center sank both of his free throws to put Triton back up by nine. Both sides traded baskets for the final five minutes as the Trojans finished off the comeback win to preserve their unbeaten season. The Trojans did a complete 180 in offensive efficiency, shooting 32 percent in the first half and 53 percent in the second half with the help of 28 second-chance points in the game. Jarrett continued to be an offensive force for the Raiders despite the loss. He finished with 36 points on 14 of 26 shooting, his second consecutive game scoring 36 or more after posting 39 against MSU West Plains on Tuesday. His 23.7 points per game puts him 12th in the country in scoring per game and eighth in total points. "They were really having trouble guarding Tristan, and they started face-guarding him, and we struggled after that some. They gave him a lot more attention. Every once in a while, we'd get something wide open, but really, whenever they turned on their press, that was what bothered us." Lucas pitched in 16 points and 8 rebounds on an efficient 5 of 8 from the floor. Tait was the third and final Raider in double figures, scoring 13 points and drawing contact on the way to an 8 of 9 day from the free-throw line.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic