Late Rally Leads No. 4 Men’s Basketball Past Trinity (Texas) 79-77

Late Rally Leads No. 4 Men’s Basketball Past Trinity (Texas) 79-77

St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 6, 2014 – Senior forward Matt Palucki earned the Robert L. Burnes Most Valuable Player Award of the 31st Annual Lopata Classic after scoring 28 points to lead the No. 4-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team to a 79-77 win over Trinity University (Texas) Saturday at the WU Field House in St. Louis.

Palucki, who was joined on the all-tournament team by senior guard David Fatoki, averaged 21 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Fatoki averaged 13 points and 7.5 assists per game, and did not commit a turnover in 56 minutes.

Palucki was 4-of-9 from three-point range and hit 12-of-13 from the foul line in the come-from-behind win. He is 41-of-47 (87.2 percent) from the free-throw line this season, and ranks second in school history with an 82.9 percent clip.

Fatoki had his top all-around game of his career with 15 points and nine assists, and did not commit a turnover in a career-high 37 minutes played. Junior guard Luke Silverman-Lloyd added 14 points on four three-pointers, while senior forward Nick Burt had 12 points and nine boards.

The Bears shot 43.4 percent (23-53) from the field, and hit a season-high 12 three-pointers. Washington U. also hit 20-of-26 from the free-throw line, and had a 17-2 advantage in second-chance points.

Washington U. improved to 8-0 with the win, while Trinity fell to 0-7. The Bears are 8-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season, and for the sixth time under head coach Mark Edwards. The Bears are one of 47 undefeated teams remaining in NCAA Division III.

Trailing by three with less than 90 seconds left, Palucki hit a three-pointer from the wing with a defender in his face to tie the game at 75-75. On the ensuing possession, Palucki blocked Jimmy Clark's shot on the baseline and it went off Clark's hand and out of bounds.

Silverman-Lloyd then hit the biggest shot of his career with 31 seconds left, canning a 15-footer from the left wing to make it 77-75. After a foul by Fatoki with eight seconds left, Matt Selling had a chance to tie the game, but missed two free-throws. Palucki sealed the game with two free-throws with six seconds left.

The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the opening 3:28 as Palucki had nine points on three triples. After Trinity got the board, Burt scored on a lay-up and Silverman-Lloyd drained a triple to make it 19-2 with 14:57 to play. The Bears connected on their first five three-pointers and hit 8-of-14 in the first half.

Trinity clawed its way back into the contest behind the three-point shooting of Brian Blum and Selling. The duo drilled six three's in the opening half, and a three-pointer by Selling with 1:58 to play made it 35-34.

Fatoki canned a three-pointer from the top of the key with three seconds left to give Washington U. a 43-36 halftime advantage. The Bears shot 46.7 percent (14-30) from the field in the first half, and had 11 assists and just two turnovers. Washington U. also turned five offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points.

A.J. Pulliam (22 points), Selling (19) and Brian Blum (13) scored in double figures for Trinity, who hit 12-of-20 three-pointers in the loss. Pulliam and Selling were also named to the All-Tournament Team.

Washington U. continues non-conference play with a road game at Webster University on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m.

Bear Notebook: Washington U. has won all four meetings with Trinity in a series that dates back to the 19084-85 season … The Bears have won 32-straight games in the Lopata Classic and have an all-time record of 56-6 (.903) … Palucki is 26 points shy of 1,000 for his career.