The Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals entered their matchup with the Tiffin University Dragons as the #1 ranked team in the land, and 1 of 16 teams at the NCAA Division II level left with a perfect record. That perfect record only lasted another 40 minutes after the opening tip, as the Dragons upset the Cardinals 82-76. It's the Dragons first win over a #1 ranked opponent in program history, and only the 2nd win over a top-5 team since 1939.
Tiffin showed no fear against the Cardinals, jumping ahead 8-2 only two minutes into the opening half. Khaleal McCormick was hot from the start, draining a three point bucket at the 18:05 mark to eclipse the 1,000 point plateau for his career. SVSU returned fire with an 11-2 run to lead 13-10. The Dragons kept their cool, rattling off six straight points to reclaim the lead at 16-13. Saginaw Valley St. hit a layup with 10:29 remaining to take a 17-16 lead, but the lead was taken away less than a minute later as Tony Kynard's layup gave the Dragons the lead for good. Tiffin continued to keep pressure on the Cardinals, forcing nine turnovers which led to 10 Tiffin points. With 04:10 left before halftime, SVSU cut the Dragons' lead to 27-26, but TU showed great resolve, finishing the half on a 11-5 run to lead 38-31 at halftime.
At the break, Khaleal McCormick led all scorers with 16 points on 60% shooting which included a 4 of 5 performance from beyond the arc. Ball security was critical for the Dragons in the 1st half, committing only six turnovers. The Tiffin bench provided a much needed lift in the scoring column, chipping in with 14 points, 37% of the Tiffin total.
TU carried the aggressive play into the next half, pushing their lead to its largest at 44-36 with 17:00 left to play. The Cardinals began to chip away at their deficit, tying the game at 48-48 with a 12-4 run in a little over four minutes. Tony Kynard came up big for TU, fighting back the charging Cardinals with 15 points over the next five minutes to give Tiffin a 63-58 lead with 08:16 to play. The Dragons' offense continued to fire on all cylinders, hitting 47% of their shots in the half, using the offensive glass to accumulate 12 second chance points, and push their lead to 71-61. The Cardinals pulled to within five points with 01:58 remaining, but Tiffin never let the Cardinals off the canvas, countering every Cardinal blow with a body shot of their own and landing a 82-76 knockout victory.
For the Dragons, Tony Kynard led the way in the scoring column with 23 points, including 17 in the 2nd half. Khaleal McCormick recorded a double-double for the Dragons, scoring 22 points and snagging 10 boards. Juwan Johnson and Mohamed Rage gave the Cardinals fits in the paint, combining for five blocks. The Tiffin bench may have been the difference in the game, totaling 33 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. As a team, Tiffin held a 40-36 advantage in points in the paint, a 20-5 advantage in 2nd chance points, and a 33-16 advantage in bench points.
The win moves the Dragons to 4-6 overall and 1-3 in GLIAC play.