UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. — Sometimes the numbers just don’t add up.
St. Ambrose shot 50 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from 3-point range, 86.7 percent from the line and outrebounded Governors State on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough.
After the Fighting Bees used a pair of Ben Schols free throws with 6 minutes, 18 seconds remaining to tie the game for the 11th time, the Jaguars scored on their next three possessions and created a margin large enough to hold off St. Ambrose 87-78 in the quarterfinals of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
"When you shoot the way we did from the field, from three, from the line, when you out-rebound your opponent, you feel like you’ve got a good chance to win the game," St. Ambrose coach Ray Shovlain said. "But, it didn’t work out that way. They hit some big baskets that were the difference."
A jumper by Justin Siorek pushed Governors State ahead to stay at 68-66 with 5:29 remaining, and Jaguars’ Shane Maple and David Anderson scored off of Bees turnovers on the next two possessions to create a six-point margin.
St. Ambrose pulled within four points on two occasions down the stretch, but a 3-pointer by Siorek and two free throws by Anderson denied the Bees a chance to play their way into a one-possession game.
"It was a back and forth game all night. Both teams played well, and credit Governors State, they made some shots when they needed to win the game," Shovlain said.
In a match-up between teams that split games during the regular season by a combined five points, the Fighting Bees trailed 46-44 at halftime but took a 62-60 lead on a Jalen Jones dunk with 10:19 remaining.
St. Ambrose (17-13) did not lead after that point but did tie the game on three more occasions before Governors State took the lead for good.
John Kerr led the Fighting Bees with 22 points and nine rebounds, an effort complemented by 17 points and seven assists from Jake Meeske and a 15-point game by Michael Williams.
Robbie Brooks and Maple led the Jaguars (16-15), finishing with 24 and 22 points respectively.
Only one senior, Alex Portwood, saw action for St. Ambrose, which posted its highest win total in five seasons despite losing five games by four points or less and going winless in three overtime games.
"We lost more than our share of close games, but from start to finish, I felt like the guys made a lot of progress this year," Shovlain said. "This was a team that wasn’t picked in the top eight in the league in the preseason, and we tied for fourth. It’s a season we can build on."