By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Rhema Bible College turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and defeated Ozark Christian College 84-70 Friday night in the semifinals of the men’s ACCA National Championship at OCC.
Rhema will play for the championship against Dallas Christian at 6 p.m. today at OCC. Ozark Christian will face Hillsdale, which fell to Dallas 82-72 in the first semifinal game, for third place at 2:15 p.m. in Young Gymnasium at Missouri Southern.
Rhema broke away to a 64-54 lead with a 9-0 run that featured two baskets off steals and a 3-pointer midway through the second half.
“We definitely lost the momentum in the second 0half against their half-court trap,” said OCC head coach Chris Lahm. “That and their ability to knock down 3s and our inability to knock them down.”
Rodney Altidor, a 6-foot-2 freshman, led Rhema with 19 points, including back-to-back baskets off offensive rebounds that gave Rhema a 73-61 lead with 4:28 to go.
Kasey Byrd added 15 points, including two 3-pointers, and Parris Hoskins scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers. Dewayne Foster came off the bench and made all three of his 3-point attempts.
“The thing that jumps out at me is the 3-point shooting, 2-for-16 for us and 10-of-26 for them,” Lahm said.
Kyle Wicklund, a 6-6 senior, led the Ambassadors with 17 points and nine rebounds but was held to seven points in the second half. Phillip Donna scored 13 points in a reserve role and Zac Hill had 10 points.
After going into the lockerroom at halftime tied at 33, Rhema took the lead for good 50-48 on a 3-pointer by Foster with 13:09 to play. Donna scored on an inbounds play to cut Rhema’s lead to 55-54 at the 11:14 mark, but that was as close as OCC came.
Trailing 64-54, the Ambassadors scored five quick points on a 3-point play by Wicklund, assisted by Cameron Woodring, and two free throws by Kendall Wingert.
Rhema responded with a 12-4 run that included 3-point goals by Brody Christian and Byrd as the visitors built a 76-63 lead with 3:52 remaining. Rhema closed out the game by making six of nine free throws in the final 1:24.
Multnomah will face Arlington Baptist for fifth place at 12:30 p.m. today at OCC. Champion Baptist will play for seventh place against Barclay at 12:30 p.m. at MSSU.