Falcons’ flight ends short of title

Published 3:26 pm Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rivera led the Falcons (29-8) with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the floor.

Antoine Davis added 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor in his final game at Montevallo. Drico Hightower added nine points and nine rebounds. DeMarcus Catchings chipped in eight points and a team-high 11 boards.

Ryan May and Jonas Brown contributed six points each.

Rivera, Davis, May and Brown made one 3-pointer each, but the Falcons shot only 4-of-15 from beyond the arc. Western Washington, meanwhile, knocked down 9-of-19 3-pointers in the championship game.

“They shot it really well,” Young said.

Rivera drained a 3-pointer and Davis stole the ball at midcourt and drove in for a layup to give Montevallo an early 11-6 lead with 15:42 remaining in the opening half.

May knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Falcons a 16-14 advantage with 11:02 left in the first half. May added another 3-pointer with 6:35 remaining, which gave Montevallo its final lead in the first half at 23-21.

Western Washington closed the first half with a 9-3 run as Montevallo went through a six-minute drought without a field goal following May’s 3-pointer. Rico Wilkins drained a jumper with one second remaining in the first half to send Western Washington into the locker room at halftime with a 30-26 lead.

Montevallo stormed out of the locker room with a 12-2 run and took a 38-35 lead following a layup by Catchings with 15:57 remaining in the game.

The Falcons used a quick 4-0 spurt to take a 44-41 lead following a fastbreak layup by Rivera before Paul Jones tied the game up with his 3-pointer with 12:21 left in the second half.

Western Washington went on a 7-0 run midway through the second half, which gave the Vikings a 56-48 lead following a 3-pointer by Chris Mitchell with 7:53 remaining in the game.

The Vikings eventually pushed their lead to 12 points late in the second half before a final rally by the Falcons cut the score to 68-64 folllowing a free throw by Davis with 58.3 seconds remaining in the game.

However, late 3-pointers by Brown and Rivera were off the mark, which kept the Falcons from making it a one-possession game down the stretch.

Despite the season-ending loss in Montevallo’s first trip to the NCAA Division II national championship game, Young said he wouldn’t trade anything for the experience after watching his team catch fire and win 10 games in a row to reach the title game.

Young especially pointed out fans piling into four charter buses and making an overnight trip from Montevallo to the team’s hotel to give them a proper send-off on their way to the arena.

“It’s been a thrilling ride,” Young said. “Seeing everybody at the hotel, everybody showed us a great deal of support.”