Kingsmen, Ephs Prevail on Opening Night of Thrivent Financial Tournament

CLU, Williams to battle for title; Luther, Northland to play consolation game

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Jayvaughn Nettles (5) guards Northland's Shai Gray during the first half of a 75-59 victory on day one of the Thrivent Financial Tournament.

Photo: Tracy Maple

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – To tip-off the final tournament of 2012 the Cal Lutheran men’s basketball team stormed past Northland, 75-59, to advance to the championship game on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. in the Gilbert Arena. The Kingsmen will face off with Williams as the Ephs defeated Luther 78-72 in overtime to win game two of the 2012 Thrivent Financial Tournament.

In game one, CLU was sparked by a 20-point performance from Jayvaughn Nettles,pouring in 18 in the first half. The senior finished with four three-pointers and came away with two of the five Cal Lutheran steals in just 21 minutes of action. Michael Palmer came off the bench for 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, knocking down his only three-point attempt of the night. Joining the duo in double figures was Dan Wade who scored 11, going 4-for-8 from the floor including one from behind the arc. Both Nettles and Wade were 2-for-2 at the free-throw line and Palmer and Steven Davis shared the lead for assists with five apiece. CLU shot 48.3 percent from the floor and 53.3 percent from three point range.

Northland also had three players reach double digits with Carnell Sheppard and Adrian Flores each scoring 15 and Shai Gray tallying 11. Sheppard put in 11-for-14 at the charity stripe, adding a team high four assists while Gray was 2-for-3 from long range tonight. The Lumberjacks combined to shoot 30.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from behind the arc.

On the glass Andrew Atakpo led all players with nine rebounds for the Kingsmen as three other CLU players came down with five apiece. Northland was led by Gray and Sheppard who shared the team high by each grabbing six rebounds. Defensively Corey Quintana recorded three blocks and was one of the three Kingsmen to finish with five rebounds.

In game two Williams saw a 14-point advantage in the first half and a six-point, 40-34, halftime lead slip away as Luther knotted things up at 42-42 early in the second stanza and the teams were never separated by more than seven points throughout the remaining 17:30. That lead for Williams came with just over five minutes in regulation but the Norse chipped away and battled back to a 66-66 tie forcing overtime.

The extra frame belonged to the Ephs who doubled up Luther 12-6 for the win. Taylor Epley was the leading scorer with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting for Williams. He was joined by James Klemm and Michael Mayer with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Klemm knocked down 5-for-9 from the three-point line and was the only one on his team to be perfect at the line, going 2-for-2. Nate Robertson dished out a game high seven assists for Williams, chipping in with eight points as well. Williams combined to shoot 52.1 percent from the floor, going 45.0 percent from behind the arc while converting 76 percent of their free-throws.

For Luther, Tyler Wedemeier had a stellar double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, grabbing three of the nine Norse steals and recording three blocks to lead all players. Cale Austin scored 11 points and John Androus and Zach Matos finished with 10 apiece. Overall, LC was 40.6 percent from the field and nearly an identical 40.7 percent from long range. They were just 52.9 percent at the line, however.

Defensively, Luther had more rebounds, 37, than the victor Ephs (32) and held Williams to just four offensive boards. Wedemeier had the game high with 12, including five on the offensive end and Androus pulled down seven. The Norse were paced by Robertson and John Weinheimer who finished with six rebounds each in the loss.

Sunday, Dec. 30 will mark the final games of the calendar year for all teams. Northland (0-7) and Luther (6-4) will play at 6:00 p.m. before the championship game at 8:00 p.m. between host Cal Lutheran (5-6) and Williams (9-1). Both live stats and live video will be available for each game.

Prior to the conclusion of the Thrivent Financial Tournament the Cal Lutheran women’s basketball team will host day one of the 2012 Posada Royale Winter Classic with the Regals playing Scranton at 3:00 p.m. following Emmanuel and UC Santa Cruz at 1:00 p.m.

Box Score: CLU 75, NC 59
Box Score: WIL 78, LC 72 - OT