By PAT DAILEY
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. —
After making contributions that don’t show on the stat sheet a night earlier, Matt Trimnell filled up the scorebook Saturday with a 20-point performance in Indiana University-Southeast’s 75-60 victory over College of the Ozarks.
Trimnell swished a trio of 3-pointers, was 6-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 at the free-throw line, as the Grenadiers earned a Final Four berth to the NAIA D-II National Tournament for the first time.
The junior guard from Seymour had just two points in IUS’s second-round on Friday. He instead made his presence felt with exceptional hustle that saw him hit the floor repeatedly and jump over the Grenadiers’ bench to retrieve a loose ball.
“I didn’t score a lot last night, but coach (Wiley Brown) has me in there for a reason,” Trimnell said. “We talked at our practice this morning how they sag off and play in. We’re a run-and-gun and drive-and-kick team. When we would penetrate and kick it out, I had wide open shots and knocked them down.
“We have a number of guys who can step up and perform big-time on any given night, just like Terrence (Billups) contributed huge tonight.”
Billups also had 20 points, after scoring 14 in the Grenadiers’ first two tourney games.
Billups was 8-of-10 shooting while upping his season field-goal percentage to a team-high .603.
The 6-foot-6 senior forward from Jeffersonville joined IUS last summer during an open gym and has re-discovered his passion for hoops. He walked away from the sport after playing at Kuyper ( Mich. ) and attended, but didn’t play basketball, at Western Dakota Tech (S.D.).
“When I decided I wanted to come back to Indiana , I was going to attend IUS, but wasn’t thinking about basketball,” Billups said. “I wasn’t even planning on playing, after the experience I had at Kuyper. But this program is so structured and disciplined. I love the game under Wiley. This has made me want to continue my career overseas.”
Trimnell and Billups helped the Grenadiers maintain control for the duration. They let a 17-point lead dip to six, but never flustered in front of a partisan Bobcats crowd rattle them.
IUS quickly pushed its lead back to double-digits.
“We hit some shots and got some stops,” Brown said. “These guys kept fighting and played hard.”
The Grenadiers, winners of 24 of their last 25, thrived in the open court or in half-court sets. They shot 52 percent, while Ozarks managed just 39-percent success.
“We executed well,” Billups said.
“We did a great job (in half-court sets) and our transition game was even better,” Trimnell said. “We try to wear teams out by making it a track meet.”
“We tried to make a run on them, but couldn’t get over the hump,” said Ozarks guard Mike Wiebe, who had 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting. “It felt like were crawling from the very beginning. When you claw and claw like that, you get tired. My legs were worn out tonight.”
IUS advances to meet No. 2-seeded Cardinal Stritch in the semifinal round Monday night at 8 CST.