Written by: Tyler Smith
(CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky.) - The Thomas More College men's basketball team kicked off the 2018 President Athletic Conference (PAC) Tournament as they hosted the number eight seed Thiel College. Coming into the tournament the Saints looked to take the first step to defend their PAC Championship title that they won in 2017. With the 72-57 victory the Saints will move on to the semi-finals, which will be on the campus of Thomas More this Thursday, February 22 at 7 p.m.
Thomas More started off slow as they found themselves down 7-0 only two minutes into the game. Throughout the first half, it was a back in forth as the biggest lead of the half was the seven-point lead that Thiel had in the first two minutes. As the half wrapped up the Saints shot 41.9% from the field as junior guard Ryne Callahan had the team high for the half with eleven points which matched the amount of points the other four starts had in the half.
At the start of the second half the Saints looked like they were back to themselves as they increased their four-point lead to double digits only four minutes into the half. After going up by double digits the Saints didn't look back as they took control of the game and just continued to increase the lead to as much as 21. In the second half, the Saints shot 48.3% and outrebounded Thiel 38-35 which seems to be the recipe for success this year for the Saints.
The Saints had nine players reach the scoring column and were led by junior guard Ryne Callahan (Morehead, Ky/ Rowan County) who finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Along with Callahan, junior guard Damion King (Winchester, Ky/ George Rogers Clark) and senior center Simon Clifford (Louisville, Ky/ DuPont Manual) both finished with 15 points, reaching his 1,000th career point while at Thomas More.
Talking with Player of the Game, junior guard Ryne Callahan, we asked him what the difference was in the team between the first and second half and what they have to do as a team this week to win their second straight PAC Championship. "We just have to remain confident like we have all year. We came out in the first half slow, but we had to just remain confident and our shots would fall. We have experience with the tournament so if our leaders keep doing what they're doing we have the tools to get back to the championship." Callahan said.
The Tomcats of Thiel College had four players reach double-digits and were led by Daquan Simmons who finished the game with 13 points. Along with Simmons, Josh Lumbus finished with 12 points and Tyrese Robinson and Mert Ozkaynak both finished with 10 points.
The Saints will continue play in the PAC Tournament in the semi-finals this Thursday, February 22nd at 7 p.m. hosting Geneva. Make sure you come out and support your Saints as they look to move to the finals Saturday.