The No. 5 seed Thomas More University men’s basketball team fell to No. 4 seed Montana Tech on Wednesday evening in overtime, 77-72 in the Second Round of the 2023 NAIA National Tournament. The loss ends the Saints season with an overall record of 23-9.
The Saints played a spectacular first half led by Reid Jolly with 14 points. As a team, they shot 19-of-34 from the field, leading to a 41-34 advantage going into the half.
In the second half, the shooting got cold and Montana Tech opened on a 11-2 run to take a 45-43 lead. The Saints regrouped to go on a 11-2 run of their own for a 54-47 advantage with 11:17 to play. Thomas More continued to remain up seven after a Casey George triple with 6:18 to play, making it 62-55. The lead was short lived, Tech going on a 7-0 run to tie it with 4:31 remaining.
The two continued to battle with Michael Ure’s 3-pointer giving Tech a 67-66 lead with 1:06 to play. The Saints Noah Pack tied things up with 35 seconds left by hitting 1-of-2 from the line, Tech followed with a turnover, George’s last look at a 3-pointer in the closing seconds no good and sending the game to overtime.
Tech opened on a 6-0 run in the extra period, Thomas More dealt a blow when Mid-South Conference Player of the Year Reid Jolly fouled out on a questionable call with 3:47 remaining. The Saints got back within three on a pair of Jacob Jones free throws with 1:25 remaining and then had their chance to tie after Tech missed two free throws. Pack’s 3-point attempt in the closing seconds was unsuccessful, Tech knocking down two free throws to secure the victory.
Jolly led the Saints with 20 points and five rebounds. Wyatt Vieth and Pack added 13 points apiece, George and Jones chipping in 12 points each. The Saints finished 50% from the field, but went 5-of-13 from the free throw line.
Tech shot 42% from the field and hit 19-of-28 from the charity stripe.
This is Thomas More’s final game at the NAIA level as they will transition next season to Divison II and will be playing in the Great Midwest Conference. The Saints started the season hot at 9-0, but struggled down the stretch, going 9-7 as they were hopeful to return to the NAIA National Tournament semifinals from last season.
They’ll enter D-II with a full arsenal, not having a senior on the roster.