CIRCLEVILLE, OH - Ohio Christian held Pensacola Christian to just seven first half field goals on Thursday to build a big halftime lead en route to a 69-63 win in a National Christian College Athletic Association Division II quarterfinal game.
"We didn't want Pensacola Christian to be comfortable, and we made every shot they took tough," OCU coach Tony Stockman said. "I felt we executed our defense exactly how we wanted in the first half."
The top-seeded Trailblazers (23-10) advance to play fifth-seeded Grace Bible College tonight at 7:30 in a semifinal game. The Tigers (17-17) advanced with a 81-69 win over fourth-seeded West Coast Baptist.
"Grace Bible does a lot of the same things and has a lot of the same type of players, so it was good to play Pensacola to try and get a handle on the style of play," Stockman said. "We'll need to sustain our focus."
Evin Bartlett paced the Trailblazers with 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting, and also added six steals. Ernie McCoy made 5 of 6 shots to finish with 15 points, Wesley Russell posted a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, and chipped in five assists and three steals, and Nic Baker added nine points.
"The good thing about our team is we don't have to rely on one person," Stockman said. "When an opponent tries to take someone away, it opens up other people."
The Trailblazers shot 16 of 36 (44.4 percent) in the first half, compared to 7 of 32 (21.9 percent) for the Eagles, who also made 13 turnovers. OCU led 38-22 at the break.
"Getting the turnovers and stops we did in the first half allowed us to get out into transition and score," Stockman said.
The ninth-seeded Eagles slowed down the pace in the second half, and outscored the Trailblazers 41-31.
Ohio Christian shot 11 of 28 (39.3 percent), compared to 14 of 31 (45.2) in the second half for Pensacola Christian.
"Pensacola Christian slowed us down, and it went back to us not focusing enough on defense," Stockman said. "We allowed them to run their offense, make shots and it really slowed the game down.
"Our focus was the biggest concern of the second half, and it allowed Pensacola Christian back into the game."
Joel Thomas led the Eagles (20-12) with 21 points, Mike Goetsch posted a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds and Sy Starks added 13 points.