EPC falls to Manila in semi-finals
EPC's string of three straight NEA Invitational titles came to an end this past Saturday night as Manila posted a 66-56 win over the Warriors.
EPC jumped out to an early 6-0 lead as Malik Monk hit a jumper in the lane then had a one-handed slam dunk to make it 4-0. Paul Pilgrim hit a jumper at 6:31. Brady Jones got Manila on the board with a jumper in the lane to make it 6-2. Monk answered with a jumper of his own 5:22 making it 8-2. Jones was fouled and hit one of two free throws to make it 6-3. Aaron Scales got an offensive rebound and scored to push the EPC lead to 10-3. Dylan Bolgle got inside for Manila followed by a Pilgrim basket inside to make it 12-5 EPC. Jammar "Mookie" Sturdivant got inside for a score at 1:05 to make it 14-5 Warriors. Dustin Sirman hit one of two free throws for Manila to make it 14-6. Monk was fouled and hit one of two free shots and Scott Eubanks made two free throws for Manila to set the first period score at 15-8.
Manila cut the lead to two as Jones hit a three-pointer from the left wing and Eubanks scored inside to make it 15-13 EPC at 6:20. Mookie got inside to make it 17-13 EPC before Manila scored the next nine points to take a 22-17 lead. Sirman hit a jumper followed by two free throws from Eubanks. Jones canned a three from the top of the key and Eubanks got inside for a basket at 2:57. Monk cut it to two at 22-20 with a three-pointer from the right wing. Zac Riley hit two free throws and Sirman netted a three-pointer to push the Lions lead to 27-20. Sturdivant and Monk both hit one of two free throws to make it 27-22 with one minute left. Jones hit one of two free throws off a technical foul against EPC to make it 28-22 at the half.
Pilgrim got EPC within four with an inside basket at 7:46 of the third period making it 28-24. Eubanks was fouled and hit one of two throws, Jones hit a jumper and Ebuanks made both free throws from being fouled again to make it 33-24 Manila. Byron Scales hit one of two free throws before Jones answered for Manila with a basket inside and then a three-pointer to make it 38-25 Lions. Sturdivant took the ball the full length of the court for a score before Jones drilled another three-pointer to make it 41-27. T.J. Young canned a three from the right corner fro EPC to cut the led to 41-30. Jones hit a jumper for Manila making it 43-30. Byron Scales scored off an offensive rebound, Monk hit two free throws and Pilgrim scored inside to cut the Manila lead to 43-36. Eubanks scored back to back baskets for Manila to push the lead back to 47-36. Monk tipped in a rebound and Riley got inside for Manila making the score 49-38. Young hit one of two free throws with 10 seconds left in the third to make it 49-39 after three.
Sturdivant scored back to back to make it 49-43 with 6:53 left to play. Eubanks got inside to score for Manila and Sirman ripped a three from the left corner to make the score 54-43 Manila. Aaron Scales hit one of two free throws at 5:57 to make it 54-44. Bolgle scored inside and then hit two free throws after being fouled to push the Lions lead to 58-44. Monk canned a three-pointer at 4:24 to make it 58-47. Eubanks hit a baseline jumper before Byron Scales hit a three from the right wing to make it 60-50 Manila. Sturdivant hit one of two free throws at 2:00 making it 60-51. Jones made two free throws after being fouled at 1:48 to make the score 62-51. Monk scored off a lay up at 1:19 for EPC and Eubanks scored inside for Manila with 52 seconds left making it 64-53. Eubanks put an offensive rebound in to make it 66-53 before Monk set the final score at 66-56 with a three-point bomb with 14 seconds left.
"We are young and not very good," EPC coach Josh Hill said after the game. "Until we grow up it's gonna be like this, win two or three games and play bad for a game," Hill added.
Monk scored 23 points for EPC followed by Sturdivant with 12 points.
Jones led all scorers with 24 points for Manila and Eubanks had 23 for the Lions.