By BRAD KEITH
Photos by JESSIE HORTON
EVANSVILLE (March 25, 2015) — After surviving Wednesday’s national quarterfinal round, the top two scoring defenses at the 2015 NCAA Division II Elite Eight meet up in the semifinals at the Ford Center Thursday evening.
Tarleton State (31-3) and Indiana (Pa.) (30-6) square off with a spot in the national championship on the line. It’s the first meeting between the schools after Tarleton defeated Mount Olive (NC) 77-59 and IUP edged Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 69-65 on Wednesday.
Tarleton, champion of the South Central Region, leads Elite 8 teams in scoring defense, entering the tournament allowing just 60.2 points per game. Not to be outdone, however, IUP allows just 61.3. The teams are also similar in terms of offensive balance – Tarleton had four scorers in double figures and six with at least nine points Wednesday, while IUP had five reach double digits.
Season stats show the same trends for each national power, with the defensive performances being key for each on Wednesday. Tarleton held Mount Olive 16 points below its season scoring average, while IUP limited Azusa Pacific to 28.5 points less than the norm.
Tarleton against ranked competition:
IUP was No. 25 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches poll, released before the start of the Division II playoffs. No. 7 Tarleton is 7-1 against ranked opponents this season, including 3-0 against teams ranked in the top 10.
Tarleton is a member of the Lone Star Conference, part of the South Central Region.
IUP is in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the Atlantic Region.
Lonn Reisman is in his 27th season and third Elite Eight with Tarleton State. He has 589 wins at Tarleton, tying him for 16th most in Division II history, and 610 career victories.
Joe Lombardi is in his ninth season as a head coach, all at IUP. His record is 202-76.
Yes, it’s in Pennsylvania:
Don’t be confused by the naming of IUP. The university is not part of the Indiana University system. Rather, it’s located in the town of Indiana, Pa. Coincidentally, California, Pa. is in the Division II women’s final and faces California Baptist, actually from California, Friday evening.
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