OAKLAND CITY, Ind. — After a rough first half where the Centurions were unable to find any offensive rhythm due to 15 turnovers, Yellowstone Christian College responded with a vengeance, outscoring the Queen City Christian College Crusaders 46-24 in the second half to come away with a 84-69 victory in Round 1 of the Christian College National Invitational Tournament on Thursday night in Oakland City, Ind.
Queen City came out firing to start the game, quickly putting YCC into a 6-0 hole courtesy of a three-pointer and a traditional three-point play. The Centurions, who looked very flat after traveling over 1,500 miles in three days, had trouble finding any offensive groove. The Crusaders were very efficient offensively, connecting on 53% (17-of-32) attempts. YCC trailed nearly the entire first half, including as much as seven in the first 20 minutes, and headed into the locker room trailing 45-38.
After enduring the first half beating, the Centurions ramped up their defensive pressure, retaking the lead early in the second half courtesy of a 12-0 run. Abraham Nyok and Taylan Barrett spearheaded the barrage, consistently pounding the ball into the paint and using their physical size to overwhelm the much smaller Crusader bunch.
The feisty Crusaders hung around until about the 9:00 mark, when the Centurions again went on a 9-0 run. After trailing most of the contest, the Centurions pushed their lead to as much as 18 late in the ballgame and used constant, drowning defensive pressure to stifle any comeback attempt Queen City had left. After making over 50% of their shot attempts in the first half, the Crusaders’ shooting percentage plummeted to 36% (26-of-72) by night’s end, with much of that attributed to the Centurions’ defense.
"It wasn't pretty, but we got the job done. Now on to Friday," said a smiling Head Coach Leonard Epps.
Nyok made a statement in his first postseason game, pouring in 15 points and pulling down 18 boards. Nyok’s 18 rebounds ties CCNIT single-game record. Stefan Tellis chalked up a team-high 20 points and also picked up two steals. Taylan Barrett had a very sound game, picking up a double-double of his own with 15 points and ten boards, and also added three assists and two steals.
Darrell Bullock led all scorers with 23 points and also chalked up eight rebounds. Bryson Walsh just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine boards. Austin Bishop also scored in double-digits with 18. Jakeith Pitts led all players with four steals.
The Centurions advance to the semifinal round which will be played on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. MST. YCC will face the winner of the Ecclesia/Oakland City game. Follow the Centurions on all social media outlets for full weekend coverage.