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Choctaws Still Dancin', Advance to "Sweet Sixteen"
March 6, 2005

Courtesy Mississippi College Sports Information

True freshman forward Tyler Winford scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead Mississippi College (24-4) to a 68-62 victory over Maryville College (22-7) in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Tournament.

Tyler Winford

Tyler Winford led Mississippi College to an NCAA tourney win and the Choctaws live to play another day. Friday night against Calvin College actually. Photo courtesy Mississippi College

Winford knocked down 7-9 shot attempts and dominated play in the second half. He also grabbed four rebounds and was 3-3 from the foul line.

One of two American Southwest Conference teams who qualified for the NCAA postseason, the Choctaws are the lone league representative still in the postseason. UT-Dallas, winner of the conference title, lost in first round play 73-66 at Trinity (Texas) last Thursday (Mar. 3).

Mississippi College will make its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1999 and a loss to John Carroll in the Sectional semifinals. It is the second consecutive season for an ASC team to advance to the Sweet 16 (Sul Ross State in 2004), with the deepest a conference team has played into the NCAA-III tournament is the Elite Eight when McMurry lost to Calvin College in the Sectional final game in 2000 (115-79).

Maryville and Mississippi College went back and forth in the first half before MC reserve Cary Plummer knocked down a three-pointer as time ran down to give the Choctaws a 27-26 lead at halftime.

Winford scored 13 points in the first nine minutes of the second half capped off by a three point play that gave the Choctaws a 46-43 lead with 11:05 remaining.

The Choctaws would not lose the lead again but never led by more than six down the stretch. Winford, Orlando Lewis and Willie Powers combined to make 5-6 free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal the win.

The Choctaws shot 53 percent and a sizzling 68 percent in the second half. The Scots finished 21-52 from the field (40 percent) and just 2-13 from the three point line.

The Choctaws advance to play Calvin College (Mich.) who beat Aurora University 71-59. The game will be Friday night (March 11) but a sectional host site has not been determined.

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