Southwest Rallies to top Spartanburg in NJCAA tournament

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Keith Gentry

Brandon Key scored a season-high 25 points to lead 12th seed Southwest Tennessee to a 77-73 win over 21st seed Spartanburg Methodist in the first round of the NJCAA Division 1 National Basketball Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Saluqis, now 29-4 on the season, will play number 5 seed North Idaho (30-1) in a second round game on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

Key’s two free throws with 1:09 remaining gave Southwest a 75-73 lead then after a missed dunk by Spartanburg Methodist with 0:03.3 left that would’ve tied the game, Lorenzen Wright Jr. was fouled and made both free throws for the final margin.

Southwest fell behind by 11 points (29-18) in the first half before cutting the deficit to four at the half (38-34) behind Key’s 14 points.

Saluqis received strong play off the bench from Kennedy McKinney, whose three-pointer tied the game at 73-73, scored 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting. All-conference forward David Burrell added 11 points and five rebounds before fouling out and Wright had nine points and three steals. Key, the Southwest point guard at 5’9”, was the top rebounder with six.

Spartanburg Methodist ended their season with a 26-7 record. They were led in scoring by Malik Gaffney (19), Daniel Bridges (16) and T.J. Sheppard (12).