DEFIANCE, Ohio – Albion College never pulled away from Defiance College Tuesday night, but it didn't crumble under the pressure, and the Britons gained a 61-52 victory on the opening night of the Purple & Gold Financial Tournament.
Albion will meet North Park University at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament's title game. It will be a rematch of a Dec. 14 game North Park won 84-78.
First-year guards Jaylen Fordham and Arshawn Parker led Albion on a 7-0 run as the Britons built a 25-13 lead with 5:23 left in the first half. The Britons maintained a 12-point lead, 28-16, on a three-point basket by Robert Ryan.
Dakota Kazen knocked down a three-point basket on Albion's first possession of the second half as the Britons led by nine, 31-22.
Defiance trimmed the margin to three on two occasions, but Albion repelled the Yellow Jackets behind jumpers from Corey Wheeler and Travell Oakes and a three-point basket and a pair of free throws from Fordham.
Defiance made one more run – a 9-2 spurt to trim the Briton lead to 49-46 – but Jordan Herron scored a jumper and Ryan an old-fashioned three-point play to keep the Britons in the lead.
Wheeler and Ryan, Albion's starters in the backcourt, combined for 25 points. Herron pulled down 15 rebounds and Oakes produced eight points and eight rebounds.