Late rally comes up short as Black Hills State knocked out in D-II national semifinals by West Liberty

The Yellow Jackets' season came to an end with a record of 29-6, as they made a second-straight appearance among the final four teams remaining in Division II.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four Practice
General NCAA basketball
Rick Osentoski / USA Today Sports

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — For the second-straight season, a deep March run by the Black Hills State men’s basketball team was cut down one step short of a Division II national championship appearance.

Third-seeded BHSU fell into a first-half hole and, despite a furious rally in the final minutes, was unable to dig itself out in an 87-82 defeat to second-seeded West Liberty (W.Va.) in the D-II national semifinals on Thursday afternoon at the Ford Center.

The Hilltoppers made 10 of their final 15 field goal attempts in the first half, spurring an 8-0 run and two separate 5-0 spurts. As a result, a 20-18 edge midway through the first half ballooned to 47-31 by halftime.

Down by as many as 18 points, BHSU trailed by double figures from the 3:57 mark late in the first half until 5:26 remained in the contest, but the Yellow Jackets pulled within nine points in the late going. Moments later, BHSU started a 14-5 run that chopped the deficit down to 85-82 with under five seconds to play. All told, the Yellow Jackets outscored West Liberty 51-40 in the second half.

For BHSU (29-6), Joel Scott posted game-highs with 30 points and 13 rebounds alongside two assists and two blocks, while Sindou Cisse added 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists. PJ Hayes tossed in 17 points powered by five 3-pointers, and Jaeton Hackley chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three assists off the bench.


Scott, listed as a senior, ends the season as one of the top 40 scorers in the history of NCAA Division II men’s basketball at 2,471 points.

West Liberty (33-3) was led by 16 points apiece by Bryce Butler and Malik Mckinney, as Butler also had five rebounds and three assists and Mckinney had four rebounds, one block and one steal. Chaz Hinds scored 14 points and fouled out in 13 minutes off the bench, as Steve Cannady contributed 13 points, four rebounds and two steals.

No. 2 West Liberty will play the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between No. 1 Nova Southeastern (Fla.) (34-0) and No. 4 California State, San Bernardino (31-3) for the D-II national championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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