Kansas City — Carson Cunningham knows basketball is a game of runs. His Carroll College program has put together dozens, hundreds even, in the past few seasons. But Friday night at Municipal Auditorium, his club went more than four minutes without a field goal, allowing Our Lady of the Lake to rally from a 12-point deficit, force overtime and win 64-62 in the extra minutes.
Cunningham’s Fighting Saints appeared to be on the fast track to a third straight quarterfinal appearance at the national tournament, using a 12-0 run over a 9:17 stretch in the second half, taking a 51-39 lead into the final four minutes of the contest. Carroll never scored again in regulation.
Our Lady of the Lake, also the Saints, hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 10, then a Darion Brown 3-pointer sliced the lead to 51-44 with 3:23 to play. Simon Shack Jr. made three straight free throws to get OLLU within four, then Alex Doche and Shafack hit field goals to tie the game at 51 with 54 seconds to play.
Carroll turned the ball over on its next possession, but Alex Santos saved the Saints with a defensive block that led to a shot clock violation against OLLU. Carroll again turned it over the next time down the court, but OLLU’s half-court heave was off the mark to force overtime.
Ryan Imhoff, the all-American senior, opened the scoring for the Fighting Saints with a jump shot, but Shafack scored quickly on the other end to tie the game at 53. Imhoff hit again minutes later to give Carroll a 57-55 lead, but fouled out on the defensive end, with Alex Doche’s free throws tying the game for OLLU.
Following a sequence of Carroll free throws and an OLLU field goal in the paint, Brandell Collins scored a fast break layup to push the Saints up 61-59 over the Fighting Saints with 24 seconds left in the overtime. Kalejaiye was whistled for stepping out of bounds on the baseline during Carroll’s next offensive possession, which led to two more free throws from OLLU and a 63-59 lead.
Kalejaiye missed a 3-pointer on the next possession, but Alex Santos grabbed an offensive rebound and had his shot blocked. OLLU extended its lead to 64-59 with another free throw, before Santos hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring the Saints to within the 64-62 final.
Imhoff finished his Carroll College career with 18 points and five rebounds, while Match Burnham had 11 points and five boards, but made only one of 12 field goals. Burnham went 8-10 from the free throw line.
Ife Kalejaiye had 10 points and eight rebounds in the loss, while Santos chipped in with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Four OLLU players reached double figures, with Brown and Courtney Julien scoring 14 points each. Doche had 13 points and 14 rebounds in the win, advancing Our Lady of the Lake to the quarterfinals against William Penn.