By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Bracket | Live Stats) The championship final of the 76th annual Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship is set with No. 6 SAGU (Texas) (33-4) meeting up with No. 13 Georgetown (Ky.) (27-8) Tuesday from Municipal Auditorium. Tip-off is set for 7:35 p.m. CDT and televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network. The Lions of SAGU are making their first-ever finals trip in just their second overall national championship. The championship night is sponsored by US Bank. Georgetown heads to its fifth title game, where it is 1-3, and looks to win its second trophy.
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SAGU is making its first appearance in the championship final. The Lions become the first team from Texas to make the title game since 2006 when Texas Wesleyan won the championship. Georgetown punched its fifth ticket to the big game, winning it all in 1998. The Tigers lost in 2000, 1996 and 1961. Georgetown becomes the fourth program in the 76-year history to advance to the title game for the fifth-or-more time. Oklahoma Baptist holds the record of eight trips in the national championship final, Oklahoma City went seven times and Concordia (Calif.) has gone five times.
Georgetown brings a 58-30 overall record in 32 trips, including its record 22nd-straight event. The Tigers need one more championship win to tie Oklahoma Baptist for the most all-time victories at 59.
SAGU has gotten it done with defense, holding their four opponents in the championship to 37.1 percent shooting and forcing 20.0 turnovers per game. The Lions rank fifth in the NAIA in field goal percentage defense and in the top 30 in turnover margin. In the semifinals Monday night, SAGU got past No. 2 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), 80-64, behind a defense that limited the Blue Raiders to 32.8 percent from the floor.
Dominique Rambo finds a way to score with a team-high 18.0 points in the championship. He had a tournament-best 28 points in the second round win against Martin Methodist (Tenn.). His 4.75 steals ranks first among all players with a minimum of two games played. Mike Nwelue adds 14.0 points and went off for a career-high 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting in Monday's victory. Jonathan Walter leads the club in rebounding (6.5) and has averaged 11.3 points.
Georgetown has relied on its rebounding force and good shooting to make it to the finals. Led by double-double machine Vic Moses, the Tigers are +15.8 in rebounding in the championship. The senior forward has had a double-double in each of the four wins and in seven of his last eight games overall. He brings in averages of 17.8 points and 13.8 rebounds. Monty Wilson, Monday's hero after he nailed a 26-footer with .4 seconds remaining, nets a team-high 19.5 points. Garel Craig (15.5 points) and Allan Thomas (11.5) are scoring threats for the Tigers.
Out of the Mid-South Conference, Georgetown has won the close games in the championship. The average margin of victory has been 2.75 points, including a 90-88 thriller over LSU Shreveport (La.) in the semifinals. The Tigers have been sharp from the field, hitting 45.6 percent. That is no surprise as they shoot over 49 percent on the season, good for sixth in the NAIA. Georgetown also scores in bunches from the foul line as it has made more free throws (78) than the opponents have attempted (65) in four championship games.
With a win, Georgetown brings home its second-ever national championship; SAGU would earn its first trophy.