Season comes to a close for Saints in first-round region loss
MOORE, Okla. - The Saints kept things close for a half, but were unable to upend the second-ranked team in NCCAA Division II as Manhattan Christian College advanced to the Southwest Region semifinals with a 78-50 victory over Central Christian College of the Bible on Thursday.
It was the third meeting between the two teams, with the Thunder winning the first two by margins of 21 and 26. Seeded second in the seven-team bracket, Manhattan Christian (23-7) went on to win the region title on Saturday by knocking off top-ranked Randall University, 104-103.
Central Christian, the No. 7 seed, was successful in its effort to slow the game down for a half. With the score tied at 6-apiece just seven minutes into action, the Saints went on a 7-0 run to take a 13-6 lead at the 10:41 mark of the first half.
Manhattan Christian answered with a 15-0 run of their own and went on to lead by 11 in the first half before Central Christian narrowed the gap to 29-23 by halftime. The Saints trailed by 11 with 9:37 left to play, but another 12-0 spurt allowed the Thunder to gain full control.
Central Christian struggled shooting the ball as they connected on just 36 percent from the field. Manhattan Christian shot 47 percent, including 12-for-26 from 3-point range. The Thunder sank 8 of 10 from behind the arc in the second half while outscoring the Saints, 49-27.
Victor Dean led the Saints with 21 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Sean Monroe added 15 points after going 3-for-4 from behind the arc.
DuJuan Henderson finished the season as the Saints' leading scorer with 19.6 points per game. He also added 5.6 rebounds per outing, while Dean averaged 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. Freshman Sean Monroe averaged 12.2 point and 4.8 rebounds in 20 games after joining the team in January.
On Friday, the Saints' two senior captains, Dean and Henderson, were honored with All-Southwest Region second team honors.
In his three-year career with the Saints after transferring from Great Lakes Christian College, Henderson scored 1,339 points in 80 games (16.7 per game) for ninth on the CCCB Men's Basketball All-Time Scoring list.
In four seasons, Dean finished with 1,412 points in 94 games (15.0 per game), which ranks eighth on the the all-time scoring list. Though rebounding stats have not been kept consistently at the school until the last decade, Dean is likely near the top of the Saints' all-time rebounding list with 1,070 (11.4 per game).
The Saints finished the 2016-17 season with a record of 12-16 overall and 3-5 (tied for fourth) in the Midwest Christian College Conference.