TLU senior Sterling Holmes (1), shown here going up for a shot against Emory's Jim Gordon (33), scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the final game of his college basketball career Friday evening.
(Abilene) - Texas Lutheran's third-straight crack at an NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship tournament victory ended Friday with an 82-69 loss to Emory University (Ga.) at Hardin-Simmons' Mabee Complex.
In the first round of the NCAA DIII tournament, TLU trailed by as many as 16 late in the first half but rallied to tie the game at 49 with 14:03 to play in the game. Matthew Gillette converted a layup that capped a 13-7 run to start the second half.
The Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game by closing the first half with a 13-4 run.
TLU had the Emory lead down to one, at 64-63, with 5:44 to play in the game.
Yet down the stretch, Emory answered the Bulldogs' final challenge with a nine-point burst from Adam Gigax that pushed the Eagles' advantage to 10 with 2:57 remaining.
Gigax was fouled on a three-pointer and made all three free throws, and then he drained a pair of three-pointers on consecutive Emory possessions.
After the team's traded baskets with under two minutes to play, Gigax hit another three to put the game out of reach. His three-pointer at the 1:18 mark put Emory up 13, at 80-67.
Emory, an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament out of the University Athletic Association, advances in the post-season to face either pod host Hardin-Simmons or LaGrange (Ga.). HSU and LaGrange tipped off at 7:30 p.m. The Eagles will play the winner at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Eagles improved to 19-7.
TLU's 2016-17 season comes to a close with an overall mark of 19-10. With first-year head coach Mike Wacker, the Bulldogs won a third consecutive Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship and made a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. TLU, the No. 3 seed in the SCAC tournament, needed three wins over three days to win the SCAC Championship and make the NCAA post-season.
Emory held TLU on Friday to 4-of-29 (13.8 percent) from the three-point line and to 23-of-67 (34.3 percent) overall from the floor.
Sterling Holmes led TLU with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Zach Behr added 20 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Holmes and Behr closed out their Bulldog careers with three NCAA tournament appearances and three SCAC Championships.
Fellow senior and three-time SCAC champ and NCAA participant Jordan Kouremetis struggled to find his shooting touch Friday. He ended the game 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-7 from the arc. He scored five points, all from the free throw line.
Harris Jowell (Brock/Brock) led TLU with 13 rebounds, and he chipped in 11 points. He had seven of TLU's 17 offensive rebounds.
Gigax paced the Eagles with 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Jim Gordon and Nick Tupanjanin contributed 17 and 12 points, respectively. Gordon added 11 rebounds.
Emory hit 12 of its 26 three-point attempts (46.2 percent) and shot 41.2 percent from the field.