The Anderson University men's basketball team saw its dream season come to an end on Saturday night at Tarble Arena as they lost to No. 14 Carthage College 76-58 in the second round of the NCAA Div. III National Tournament in Kenosha, Wisc.
"This season has been phenominal and the last 40 minutes don't take away from that," said AU coach Tom Slyder. "We've never been to the NCAA and to do that is lofty."
Andrew Bowman led the Ravens with 13 points and six rebounds, hitting 6-of-7 field goals. Ty Riddle was also in double figures with 11 points, making 3-of-11 shots, including three 3-pointers.
"We just played a good team and we couldn't get any shots to fall," said Riddle. "(Defender Cody Hilton) was physical and I couldn't get any space. They didn't let me get any good looks and he's one of the best defenders I've ever played against."
Andrew Jones was also in double figures with 10 points and three rebounds, hitting 4-of-6 free throws. Brock Morrison added eight points, seven rebounds and Phil Hogan chipped in with six points and three rebounds off the bench.
AU shot 38 percent from the field, including just 32 in the first half when it trailed 35-23. Carthage finished at 59 percent shooting, including 70 in the second half when it outscored the visitors 41-35.
The Red Men won the battle of the boards 31-29, but the Ravens had the edge on the offensive glass 10-5. Carthage also had the lead in assists (18-8) and blocks (2-1), but Anderson had the advantage in points in the paint (28-20), turnovers (8-11), points off turnovers (15-6) and steals (5-4).
Carthage led 20-19 with five minutes left in the first half, but outscored Anderson 15-4 to take a 12-point lead at the half. The deficit was the largest for the Ravens this season at the intermission.
The Red Men led by as many 18 points at 49-31 with 14 minutes left in the game, but AU used a 21-7 run to cut the lead to just four points with seven minutes remaining.
Then Steve Djurickovic took over the game, accounting for the next 14 points for the Red Men to seal the victory. He assisted on a pair of baskets, made four free throws and scored five points as Carthage used a 14-2 run over the next four minutes to put away the Ravens.
The Carthage All-American finished with 30 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, hitting 10-of-15 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws.
"The difference in the game was (Carthage Coach) Bosko's (Djurickovic's) son," said Slyder. "He is a special player when he makes his shots and gets to the free throw line."
"He's good," said Gabe Miller, who drew the assignment of guarding the 6-3 junior guard. "I contested quite a few of his shots and he still hit them. You can't sag on him or he will hit a 3-pointer and you can't get up on him or he will drive by you."
AU finishes the season 23-6 overall and 13-3 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. It was also the Ravens first conference title since 1981-82, and first NCAA Div. III National Tournament appearance in school history.
"They are a terrific team and I love their balance," said Djurickovic of the Ravens. "(Anderson) played as good as you can play against a nightmare of a team (in St. Thomas on Friday night). They played well enough last night to cost me some sleep. We did a really good job on Riddle, but you can see that he can go for 30 points on any given night. It was a heck of a game and we played really well late."