Francis’ team wins league title, 16 in a row, headed for DII tournament; regular seasons end poorly for Platek, Garcia and Walton

By R.L. Bynum

Jeremiah Francis’ Emmanuel College team is on a roll and a conference champion headed to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

The Lions (23–7) have won 16 consecutive games, including defeating Belmont Abbey 77–60 Sunday in the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship game in Spartanburg, S.C.

In Emmanuel’s 86–49 semifinal victory Saturday over Barton College, Francis scored 15 points and four 3-pointers with two rebounds.

“We always just try to stay shot-ready when the ball comes to us,” Francis said after the Barton win. “Coach tells us that every day in practice. When the ball is getting ready to be kicked [out], you’re just ready to knock it down.”

Francis, who started all 28 games he played in this season and averaged 8.4 points, had seven points, five assists and two 3-pointers in the championship game.

It’s Emmanuel’s third NCAA berth in school history. The Lions face the host of an eight-team regional, Augusta (26–5), at 5 p.m. Saturday.

With a win, the Lions would meet the winner of the game between Catawba (23–7) and USC Aiken (22–8) at 7:30 Sunday. The regional championship is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14. In the other half of the bracket are UNC Pembroke (26–3), North Georgia (20–7), Lincoln Memorial (27–4) and Lander (22–9).

Francis played 16 games, starting three times, for Carolina in the 2019–20 season, scoring 52 points. In two seasons at New Mexico, he scored 154 points in 33 games before moving on to Emmanuel, located in Franklin Springs, Ga.

Dawson Garcia scored 19 points in both games last week as his Minnesota team beat Rutgers 75–74 at home on Thursday and lost 71–67 Sunday at home against Wisconsin. He had seven rebounds and four assists against Rutgers, then two assists with no rebounds against the Badgers.

The Gophers (8–21, 2–17 Big Ten) finished last in the Big Ten, three games behind Ohio State (13–18, 5–15), the next-lowest team.

No. 14-seed Minnesota faces No. 11-seed Nebraska (16–15, 9–11) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at 9 p.m. on Wednesday (Big Ten Network), needing to win five games on successive days to win the conference title.

Andrew Platek’s Siena team (17–14, 11–9 MAAC) takes a five-game losing streak into the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament this week in Atlantic City, N.J. The Saints finished the season with a pair of narrow defeats and ended up fourth in the conference.

After scoring 18, 11 and 14 points in his previous three games, Platek was scoreless in 19 minutes of his senior-night 67–66 Thursday loss to Manhattan. He scored two in Saturday’s regular-season-ending 73–72 loss at St. Peter’s.

No. 4-seed Siena faces No. 5-seed Niagara (15–14, 10–10) in the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals at 9:30 Thursday night, needing three wins to earn the league title.

Little has gone well for Kerwin Walton at Texas Tech since the last of seven consecutive starts, a 78–72 win at West Virginia on Feb. 18. That was the third of four successive Red Raiders wins.

Since then, Walton has played five minutes in two games, and hasn’t taken a shot. He didn’t play in either game last week, a 67–63 loss at No. 3 Kansas and a 71–68 home defeat against Oklahoma State.

Added to that, the school suspended Coach Mark Adams for “racially insensitive” comments to a player.

The No. 9-seed Red Raiders (16–15) face No. 8-seed Oklahoma (15–16) in a first-round game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, needing four wins in successive days to capture the title. The teams finished tied for last place in the league at 5–13.

Checking in on 4 former Heels

Jeremiah Francis, Emmanuel College guard

6–1, 190 pounds | Junior | UNC 2019–20 (1 season)

86–49 Saturday Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinal win over Barton College — Started; 31 minutes, 15 points, 5–8 FG, 4–6 3FG, 1–2 FT, 2 rebounds, 2 fouls, 1 assist, 1 steal
77–60 Sunday championship game win over Belmont Abbey — Started; 34 minutes, 7 points, 2–3 FG, 2–2 3FG, 1–2 FT, 1 rebound, 5 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals
Season statistics — 28 games, 28 starts, 8.4 points, 39.9% FG, 34.1 3FG%, 69.6 FT%, 2.8 rebounds; totals of 75 assists, 26 steals and 1 block
Up next — 5 p.m. Saturday at Augusta in NCAA Division II Tournament first round

Dawson Garcia, Minnesota forward

6–11, 230 pounds | Sophomore | UNC 2020–21 (part of 1 season)

75–74 Thursday win vs. Rutgers — Started; 37 minutes, 19 points, 6–15 FG, 1–3 3FG, 6–9 FT, 7 rebounds, 3 fouls, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 1 steal
71–67 Sunday loss vs. Wisconsin — Started; 40 minutes, 19 points, 8–14 FG, 3–6 3FG, 0 rebounds, 2 fouls, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 2 steals
Season statistics — 24 games, 24 starts, 15.6 points, 45.8 FG%, 34.6 3FG%, 70.2 FT%, 6.6 rebounds; totals of 46 assists, 17 steals, 16 blocks
Up next — 9 p.m. Wednesday vs. Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago, Big Ten Network

Andrew Platek, Siena guard

6–4, 208 pounds | Graduate student | UNC 2017–21 (4 seasons)

67–66 Thursday loss vs. Manhattan — Started; 19 minutes, 0 points, 0–7 FG, 0–4 3FG, 1 foul, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 steal
73–72 Saturday loss at St. Peter’s — Started; 25 minutes, 2 points, 1–5 FG, 0–3 3FG, 2 rebounds, 1 foul
Season statistics — 31 games, 31 starts, 10.6 points, 45.9 FG%, 43.9 3FG%, 59.5 FT%, 2.4 rebounds; totals of 46 assists, 26 steals, 5 blocks
Up next — 9:30 Thursday vs. Niagara in quarterfinals of MAAC Tournament, ESPN+

Kerwin Walton, Texas Tech guard

65, 200 pounds | Junior | UNC 2020–22 (2 seasons)

67–63 Tuesday loss at No. 3 Kansas and 71–68 Saturday loss vs. Oklahoma State Didn’t play
Season statistics — 27 games, 7 starts, 3.6 points, 45.3 FG%, 41.1 3P%, 87.5 FT%, 0.9 of a rebound; season totals of 12 assists, 5 steals, 5 blocks
Up next — 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. West Virginia at Kansas City in the Big 12 Tournament


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s