Blue Dragons fall to Salt Hake in NJCAA National Championship Game

Blue Dragons fall to Salt Hake in NJCAA National Championship Game

HCC Sports Information
Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team couldn't climb out of an 18-point second-half hole and lost to Salt Lake Community College 74-64 on Saturday in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament championship game at the Sports Arena.

A two-time national champion, the Blue Dragons finish as a national runner-up for the third time in program history (1994, 1973). Hutchinson completes its season at 32-5, which ties for the third-most wins in program history.

Salt Lake (31-9) played five games to win its second national championship.

Tournament Most Valuable Player Conner Toolson besieged the Blue Dragons with five 3-point goals and a game-high 28 points. Toolson was the tournament's leading scorer with 90 points over five games.

The Blue Dragons fell behind 42-27 at halftime shooting only 25 percent in the first half. HCC then trailed 47-29 with 18:10 to play. The Blue Dragons got as close as four points twice, the final time at 68-64 with 2:14 to play after Bashir Ahmed hit a pair of free throws.

Salt Lake scored the final six points of the game.

Ahmed, the 2016 Jayhawk Conference Most Valuable Player, scored 22 points to lead to Hutchinson, going 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. Samajae Haynes-Jones had 11 points.

The Blue Dragons were held to 35.3 percent shooting, hitting only 2 of 22 from 3-point range including 0 of 10 from distance in the second half.

Ahmed, Keanu Pinder and Akbar Hoffman were all named to the NJCAA Tournament All-Tournament Team. They are the Blue Dragons' 23rd, 24th and 25th players to be named All-Tournament in 19 overall tournament appearance.