The Dillard University Bleu Devils are back to back GCAC Men's Basketball champions.
(New Orleans) For the second straight year, the Dillard Bleu Devils have earned the right to be kings of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference with an 86-65 blowout victory over Philander Smith College in the 2017 GCAC Men's Basketball Tournament Championship game in a series that has been dubbed "The Battle of @hiphopprez" (Old School vs. New School) because Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dillard University's current president, spent seven years as Philander Smith's president before moving to New Orleans to hold the same title at Dillard.
The #10 Bleu Devils (24-7, 11-1) got off to a hot start with a 13-2 run and never looked back as they led 43-31 at the break, shooting 53 percent in the first half while holding its opponent to just 32 percent. The second half was more of the same as the Bleu Devils feasted on the foul line, knocking down 16-of-24 free throws in the second half to just 6-of-10 for the Panthers, who simply had no answer for Dillard's high-powered offense.
Senior power forward and NAIA All-American Demetric Austin (SR/Washington, D.C.) had a stellar tournament and was named GCAC Men's Basketball Tournament Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year as his team won its second straight title. In this year's championship game he scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out three assists and had one steal in nearly 40 minutes of action for Dillard, who won its 24th game of the season. Senior point guard Dennis Hightower (SR/Daniville, Ill.) finished with seven points, six assists, two rebounds and one steal while teammate Jalen McGaughy (JR/Ann Arbor, Mich.) produced a near triple-double, scoring 22 points, grabbing 10 boards and blocking eight shots. McGaughy, the nation's leader in both 3-point field goal percentage and blocks per game, buried four 3-pointers in the victory.
Junior transfer Quinton Jackson (JR/Cambridge, Md.) had a solid output as he scored 14 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed six boards. Jackson, McGaughy, Hightower and Austin were all named to the 2017 GCAC Men's Basketball All-Tournament Team, with Austin picking up his second straight tourney MVP award.
Philander Smith's Braylon Spicer was the high man for the Panthers, finishing with 16 points in the loss while former Bleu Devil JaCarre Crockett, who started his collegiate career in New Orleans at Dillard University, finished with just six points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field.
2016 GCAC Freshman of the Year Montrey Thomas (SO/Shreveport, La.) chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds while sharpshooter Jessie Ward (SO/Maringouin, La.) poured in 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, including a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. Thomas was also perfect from the free throw line, sinking all four of his attempts. As a team, Dillard hit 22-of-31 free throws (71 percent).
The Bleu Devils await the NAIA Selection Show which is on Wednesday, March 8, when official qualifiers and bracket for the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division 1 Men's Basketball National Championship will be announced via a video selection show at 8 p.m. CST. Additionally, information will be posted on www.NAIA.org.