DANVILLE — Phoenix College freshman guard Brandon Brown could find any words to describe the emotions that he was felling as the Bears advanced to NJCAA Division II National Tournament championship game with a 73-72 victory over Central Community College of Nebraska on Friday night at the Mary Miller Gymnasium.
"I'm speechless right now,'' said Brown, who scored a team-high 22 points, including two free throws with 14.7 seconds that proved to be the difference for Phoenix College (27-8).
"Game on the line, you have to hit those free throws,'' Brown said. "I practice free throws every day. I missed a few early, so I got my composure and stuck with it.''
Not only was Brown as cool as ice on his free-throw attempts, but he was also pretty calm as he buried a 3-pointer from almost 30 feet with 1 minute left in the game, giving Phoenix College a 71-70 lead.
"That was huge,'' Phoenix College coach Matt Gordon said. "It won us the game.''
And even though the Bears had the lead after Brown's 3-pointer and they had extended that lead to 73-70 on the freshman's two free throws, Phoenix College still had to sweat out the final seconds.
Central Community College (25-10) got a opportunity to tie the game with 5.7 seconds left as Tra-Deon Hollins drove to the basket, hit a layup and was fouled on the play. But the 6-foot-3 freshman from Omaha, Neb., who had 27 points, came up short on his free-throw attempt.
But, the Raiders secured the rebound as Tyron Criswell, who had a game-high 28 points, grabbed the ball and attempted to go back up with the shot, but he was blocked by Phoenix College's Joel Fiegler.
The ball went out-of-bounds and Central Community College was going to get another chance with an in-bounds play under its basket with 3.2 seconds left, after the official review.