SOUTH HOLLAND, IL The South Suburban College Bulldogs Men's Basketball Team defeated Lakeland Community College on Saturday by a score of 78-76 in the 3rd place game of the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament.
After surrendering a 20-point lead, the Bulldogs held off Lakeland and the would-be tying basket at the buzzer was waved off (confirmed as the officials went to the video replay). Bulldogs' sophomore guard Michael Harris led the team with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
SSC won their first two games of the tournament before losing a heartbreaker in overtime on Friday to the Community College of Rhode Island. The Bulldogs finished the season 33-4 on their way to earning the 3rd place trophy. The 33 wins is a school record and the third-place finish represents the highest in six trips to the "Elite Eight" of the National Tournament.
"It was disappointing to be one possession away from playing for the National Championships," said Bulldogs' Head Coach John Pigatti. "But I am proud of the way our players showed their character in the 3rd place game. They came out and played with the intensity and enthusiasm that they have played with all year. Winning that game and finishing 3rd in the nation is still a special accomplishment for this team."
SSC has racked up several post-season accolades already with sophomore guard Sultan Muhammad earning Region IV-A Co-Player-of-the-Year (sharing the award with Triton's Bryant Orange), Head Coach John Pigatti was named to his 4th Regional Coach of the Year Award, and freshman guard Bryce Walker was named to the All-Tournament Team at nationals along with the Jack Cistriano Small Man Award, which is awarded to the best player in the tournament under six feet tall.
Pigatti added, "This season was one for the record book, and our team persevered through a lot. They stayed together as a team and represented the college in a first class manner".
The complete National Tournament results can be found online at http://www.dacc.edu/njcaa/