The Kansas State Wildcats got off to a hot start and held off repeated efforts by the Missouri Tigers to come back, winning the 2018 Paradise Jam championship, 82-67.
The title game started with the No. 12 ranked Wildcats jumping out to a 10-2 lead over the game’s first five and a half minutes. Missouri bounced back, tying the game at 19 when Reed Nikko’s thunderous dunk over a KSU defender capped a 7-0 run for the Tigers with just over seven and half minutes to go in the half.
The game was tied at 27 with 4 minutes to go in the half, but Kansas State scored the last 13 points before the break, giving the Wildcats a 40-27 halftime lead. The stretch was started when Dean Wade knocked down three pointers on two straight possessions.
In the second half, the Wildcats picked up right where they left off, scoring seven of the half’s first nine points.
Jordan Geist scored five straight points for the Tigers to cut the deficit to 13 with 17 minutes to go but that’s the closest they got in the half.
Missouri cut it to 13 again with about 10 minutes left but KSU’s Cartier Diarra knocked down three pointers on back to back possessions and Xavier Sneed was able to get a transition dunk and the lead was 19. Missouri was never able to recover.
Kansas State’s balanced attack saw four players in double digits as Dean Wade scored 21, Barry Brown Jr. contributed 19, Xavier Sneed dropped in 13 and Kamau Stokes put up 10.
Geist lead the Tigers with a game-high 24 points while Xavier Pinson had 12 and Mark Smith finished with 11.
Oregon State 61 – Penn 56
In the consolation game, the University of Pennsylvania started the quest for third place with a 10-1 run, but by the time Tres Tinkle knocked down a jump shot for Oregon State at the 10:30 mark it was the Beavers with a 15-14 lead.
The teams were tied at 29 with just over a minute left in the half before the Beavers went on a 15-0 run before Jackson Donahue stopped the bleeding for Penn by knocking down a three with just under 15 minutes to go. Tres Tinkle had 10 of those Oregon State points during the stretch.
The Quakers clawed their way back into the ball game, getting the lead as close as five points with just under 11 minutes to go but Oregon State quickly pushed the margin back to 10 with just over nine minutes to go.
Back-to-back three pointers from Tinkle and Ethan Thompson extended the Beavers margin to 13 with just over seven minutes to go and there was never much doubt about the outcome after that.
Northern Iowa 54 – Old Dominion 53
Northern Iowa took home fifth place in a close contest with Old Dominion, in a what turned out to battle of point guards. Northern Iowa’s A.J. Green Old Dominion’s Ahmad Caver were the only two players in double digits.
The game went back and forth in the early going before Shandon Goldman scored on back-to-back possessions with just over seven minutes to go in half, giving the Panthers a seven point lead and some breathing room.
Old Dominion was able to cut into the lead narrowly before the halftime break as the score was 26-21 when the teams headed to the locker rooms.
It was Green who hit a three on Northern Iowa’s first possession of the half but Caver responded in a big way, knocking down three three’s of his own before he stole the ball and converted a layup to give the Monarchs a 34-32 advantage with 14 and half minutes to go.
But a layup and a free throw by Trae Berhow capped an 8-0 run for Northern Iowa and the Panthers were back up, 42-36, with just over 10 and half minutes to go. The lead got as high as 50-43 when Austin Phyfe hit a layup with 6:40 to go but, Old Dominion just kept coming back, knotting the score with its own 7-0 run.
Green then knocked down a jumper with 1:53 and Isaiah Brown knocked down a pair of clutch free throws with 17 seconds left to give a Panthers a four point edge. Caver rounded out his scoring at 24 points with a three at the buzzer.
Green finished with 15 points.
Eastern Kentucky 82 – Kennesaw State 60
In the seventh place contest, Nick Mayo scored the game’s first five points and Eastern Kentucky worked its way to an early lead. The score was 17-11 at the 12 minute mark, but a Kennesaw State rally tied the game with 9:41 left in the half.
Over the next three minutes, Eastern Kentucky went on a 11-4 run to open up a seven point lead. The margin didn’t vary much as Eastern Kentucky held a 39-33 advantage at the half.
With just under 14:30 remaining Tyler Hooker converted a layup and drew a foul, and the deficit was just four after he hit the free throw.
Eastern Kentucky didn’t let the game get any closer as they went on a 13-4 run to that made the score 65-52 with 11 minutes to go.
The teams then exchanged baskets before Eastern Kentucky were able to go a 15-6 run to put the game out of reach for good.
Kansas State’s Dean Wade was named most valuable player of the tournament, and joining him on the all-tournament team was teammate Barry Brown Jr. The other tournament all-stars were Devon Goodman, Penn; A.J. Green, Northern Iowa; Jordan Geist, Missouri; and Tres Tinkle, Oregon State.
The women’s tournament will tip off on Thanksgiving day with No. 2 UConn and No. 17 University of South Florida headlining the competitive field.