DETROIT, Mich.-On Thursday, the Mustangs hosted their first NCAA Division II school in program history when national power Central State University came to Detroit for a weeknight tilt. The Marauders (15-3) came into the game as one of the best NCAA D2 teams in the country.
Thursday’s game was not supposed to be a tight battle as it pitted a NCAA power vs. a struggling NAIA team. However, an improving and gritty group of Mustangs refused to be written off and accepted the challenge of David vs. Goliath.
The Mustangs went toe-to-toe with the visiting Marauders in the early going as both teams traded buckets. A fast-paced game made for great viewing for the 300 spectators at Ernest T. Ford Fieldhouse in Highland Park. The Glen Donahue led Mustangs had an opportunity to lead at halftime, but a late Marauder bucket placed the visitors up 35-32 at the break.
The Mustangs were able to battle close in the first half despite missing two of their starters. A below-average 32% field goal percentage was a victim of a long and athletic Marauder defense in the first half. The Mustangs countered by holding the visitors to a mere 30% from the field.
University of Tennessee transfer Anthony Passley (27 points and 18 rebounds in previous meeting – 73-60 CSU victory on 12/04/2009) was held in check in the first half with five points on all free throws (0-of-5 FG).
Period two started with more intense play from both sides. Central State, a proven team with 14 victories coming in, began to pull away and seemed poised for another easy victory. The Mustangs were found staring down their largest deficit of the night at seven points with 15:00 to play after an emphatic Marauder dunk that forced a timeout.
The timeout was all the Mustangs needed to climb back into the ballgame. A late surge ensued as Keontay Glazier and Marcus Hopkins brought the Mustangs back. Glazier nailed a huge three that knotted the game at 54-54 with 6:25 to play. Hopkins answered a Marauder free throws with a bucket and free throws of his own to place the Mustangs up one with 3:58 left in the contest.
The following play, DeAundray Armstrong bullied his way to the paint for a baby hook that put the Mustangs up three, 60-57, with only 3:00 on the clock. Unfortunately, the Mustangs would only tally two more points in the final minutes as the Marauders finished by capitalizing on turnovers and nailing free throws to pull away, 70-62.
Keontay Glazier (Pontiac, Mich.) led the Mustangs once again with a solid 16 contribution. Glazier nailed key 3-point buckets to tie or put the Stangs in the lead late in the contest. He was followed in double figures by sophomore guard Marcus Hopkins (Southfield, Mich.). Hopkins’ 12 points were all scored in the second half after he sat out the entire first stanza. Big man DeAundray Armstrong (Detroit, Mich.) willed his way to a steady eight point-eight rebound effort. The 6’8″ forward/center also added two pivotal steals as he remained active on the defensive end.
If the Mustangs happened to pull the game off it would have been the best victory in the program’s eight year history. The Mustangs have never defeated a NCAA Division II school since intercollegiate competition began in 2002.
Despite the loss, the Mustangs continue to improve and seem to be gearing up for a run at postseason play. A win on Saturday is a must if the team wants to be considered for both the NAIA and USCAA playoffs. Saturday’s game is of high important because NAIA and USCAA rival Indiana University Northwest will be in town at 3pm inside University of Detroit Jesuit High. The visiting Redhawks are ranked just behind the Mustangs in the USCAA and the A.I.I. (Mustangs NAIA conference). A loss would all but write off postseason chances and likely catapult the Redhawks over the Mustangs as “bubble” team favorites.
NAIA/A.I.I. Ranking: Current rank of #4 in the A.I.I. conference. Indiana Northwest is ranked #5. Top four seeds advance to conference tournament in Denver, CO in late February. Winner of conference tournament receives automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.
USCAA Ranking: The Mustangs are currently ranked #9 in the USCAA. The top eight seeds advance to the USCAA National Tournament in Pittsburgh this March. Indiana University Northwest is ranked #11.
Category: Men's Basketball