Tyler Dearman(Southern Guilford HS) Scores Career-High(36 pts.), Guilford College Men’s Basketball Rolls Berry In First Round of NCAA Tournament:Quakers vs. Penn State Harrisburg in Finals Tonight at 8pm(Inside the Ragan-Brown Field House)

Dearman Scores Career-High, Men’s Basketball Rolls Berry In First Round of NCAA Tournament
Quakers advance to round of 32 for fifth-straight tournament trip

GREENSBORO, N.C. – In front of a raucous crowd inside the Ragan-Brown Field House, the Guilford College men’s basketball team, and Tyler Dearman (Greensboro, N.C.) in particular, only gave reason for even more noise, blitzing Berry College to the tune of an 87-70 victory in the opening round of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Tournament on Friday night.

“That was one of the biggest crowds I have been a part of here at Guilford,” Julius Burch (Greensboro, N.C./Southern Guilford HS) said about his fellow students and Greensboro community members coming to the game. “It was a great atmosphere, great to be a part of… we hope to see them tomorrow, hope they cancel some plans.”

With the win the Quakers improve to 23-4 on the season and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in seven National Tournament trips under Head Coach Tom Palombo. They will face off against Penn. State-Harrisburg who rallied late to slip past Hood College, 72-67 earlier in the day. Berry, on the other hand, sees their 16-game winning streak end and their season conclude with a 19-10 record.

The Guilford offense was clicking on a level we have not seen this season with their 87 points, as well as their 57.9% field goal percentage and 33 made field goals all representing season-best marks.

“We played really well together,” Palombo said. “We shared the ball and I think that is important for us…. Different guys making shots.”

Tyler Dearman(Southern Guilford HS) was the catalyst for GC, scoring a career-high 36 points in his first game on the national stage, shooting 15-of-23, with those also being career-bests. He added four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block in the win.

Also in his first NCAA Tournament action, Burch posted a double-double on 15 points and 14 rebounds including eight on the offensive end. He shot 6-of-9 from the field, drew five fouls, and dished a team-high four assists.

Caleb Farrish (McLeansville, N.C.) was phenomenal, scoring 16 points on 5-for-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from deep, many of them in pivotal moments.

“I am sure glad he was aggressive tonight,” Palombo said about Farrish’s performance. “He got some open looks and he knocked them down… He has made a bunch of big shots for us this year, so I am not surprised by that.”

Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Player of the Year, Blake Campbell led the guests with 20 points although the Quakers made his life difficult forcing him to turn the ball over three times and to only go 2-of-8 from deep. He also had a team-high six rebounds.

Chase Ellis scored 18 points on 6-for-11, adding five rebounds, although he was limited to just 27 minutes by foul trouble.

Braxton Benham rounded out the Vikings’ double-digit scorers with 16 to go with a game-high six assists.

Benham opened the scoring with a three on the Vikings’ opening possession, with Dearman answering with a second-chance trey on the Quakers’ trip down. It would be a punch-counterpunch opening four minutes of play before Berry created a little distance, with Ellis knocking down a shot from deep then slamming home a finish on a nice baseline cut on back-to-back offensive trips approaching the 15-minute mark, giving them a six-point cushion. That lead would prove to be the largest the visitors would get, however, and it was one that Guilford made quick work of, with a Luke Proctor (Apex, N.C.) jumper, a Burch steal-to-score, and the first of Farrish’s handful of big shots, this one a three to grab the lead.

The tightly contested first half of play continued before Guilford finally opened a sliver of an edge approaching the five-and-a-half-minute mark. Proctor tied things with a jumper, then buried a three to put the hosts in front. Dearman hit a three of his own, but the six-point advantage would be the largest GC would muster in the first half of play that would remain within two-possessions for the duration of the stanza. With 4:11 left in the half, the Vikings went on what ended up as their longest scoring run of the half, turning a five-point deficit into a four-tally lead over just under three minutes of action. Gabe Proctor (Apex, N.C.) halted the run and after a single free throw make by Benham, a Burch layup and another big shot from Farrish thrust the Quakers into the driver’s seat at the half, 44-42.

Berry had little trouble scoring against the nation’s top defense in the first half, shooting 57.7% as a team and 45.5% from three, the problem is that the same was true for Guilford as they responded by shooting 58.1% from the field and 42.9% from range. With the Vikings’ hot shooting, the Quakers benefited greatly from their 12 second-chance points to keep pace.

The second half was all Quakers. Berry briefly took a two-point advantage at the 16:51 mark with a pair at the line, but Rob Littlejon (Columbus, Ohio) grabbed it right back with three points the old-fashioned way and Guilford would run away with it from there. A 9-2 run by Dearman on his own got the game beyond two-possessions, and little by little, the hosts just kept building and building their lead.

Guilford allowed Berry to score consecutive baskets just once over the final ten minutes of play, seeing their lead swell to as much as 19 in the process. As the visitors needed to resort to fouling intentionally early, at around the 3:30 mark, in an attempt to extend the game, they sent one of the best free throw shooting teams in the nation to the line and they did not disappoint, going 7-of-8 from the charity stripe to put the game on ice and bring the final score to 87-70.

The Quaker defense locked in in the second half, limiting the Vikings to just 35.5% from the field and, while many of them were chucked at the rim in desperation time down the stretch, they made just two of their 16 three-point attempts in the stanza. Meanwhile, Guilford’s offense just kept humming behind Dearman’s 19 in the half to run away with the win.

The Quakers look to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth time under Coach Palombo when they battle Penn State-Harrisburg TONIGHT at 8:00 PM.