Story By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator
Photos courtesy of Referee Photo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) No. 3 seeded-Montana Western closed out the game on a 6-0 run to eliminate No. 7 Campbellsville (Ky.) by a 75-72 score in the second round of the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, Friday afternoon at Municipal Auditorium. The Bulldogs will play the winner of No. 8 Langston (Okla.) and No. 5 Graceland (Iowa) on Saturday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m. CDT
- Montana Western improved its overall record to 27-7. The Bulldogs advance to their second-ever quarterfinal round with the last one coming in 2013.
- Campbellsville ends its year with a record of 24-10
- Seventeen of the first 21 games have been decided by 10 points or less, including 10 by six points or less and seven by three points or less.
- Brandon Jones led four Bulldogs in double-figures with 22 points. He also had seven boards and three blocks.
- Zaccheus Darko-Kelly (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Dom Robinson (13 points, 11 rebounds) contributed double-doubles for Montana Western.
- Robinson nearly tallied a triple-double with nine assists.
- Hagen Tyler collected a game-best 23 points shooting 50 percent (8-for-16) from the floor.
- Campbellsville’s Andrew Smith posted his 14th game this year of 10-plus rebounds, including his seventh-straight after a 14 rebounding effort. He added 14 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Trailing by three points with 2:03 remaining in the game, Kooper Kidgell’s basket in the paint and a pair of free throws by Dom Robinson was the spark for Montana Western. Campbellsville had three field goal attempts in the closing minutes that did not fall.
- Brandon Jones notched 14 of his 22 points to keep Montana Western close in the first half. The Bulldogs trailed 35-34 despite holding Campbellsville to 35 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
- The lead changed hands nine times overall, but Campbellsville led for most of the first half. The Tigers scored the game’s first nine points after a Jalen Coates jumper at the 15:28 mark. But Montana Western chipped away and eventually got the deficit down to one point at the half, ending the first 20 minutes on a 23-13 run.
- Campbellsville held significant leads in the second half – 42-34 at the 18:50 mark and 66-60 with six minutes remaining. The Tigers struggled in the games closing minutes connecting on just 3-of-10 (.300) field goal attempts.
HOW THEY SAW IT
- Montana Western head coach Steve Keller – “Campbellsville is a good basketball team. They took it to us. We got back into it at half. We found a way. That’s all that matters. We weren’t playing well and were only down one. Just keep battling. When we left I said we only need to win this half by two and we win by three.”
- Campbellsville head coach Brent Vernon – “Our guys did a great job but definitely not the result we wanted. The bottom line is Montana Western just made more shots down the stretch than we did. I am really proud of this group because we’ve been through a lot of adversity, but they have never made an excuse and that’s the story of our team this year.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Campbellsville held a 51-42 rebounding edge with four players ending with at least seven rebounds.
- Brandon Jones and Marcus Payne each had three blocks apiece to pace Montana Western on the defensive end.
- Montana Western struggled from the free throw line, hitting on just 45 percent (14-of-31). But Dom Robinson and Marcus Payne both made a pair of free throws in the final minute when it really counted.
Campbellsville is back in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship for the third time in the past four years...The Tigers have qualified for the national tournament 12 times and hold an 11-12 all-time record...Campbellsville is 2-4 all-time in the second-round games...The last time Campbellsville made it to the quarterfinals (2016), the Tigers advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Mid-American Christian (Okla.)...Campbellsville is one of six Mid-South Conference teams in the tournament and one of three to advance to the second round...Mid-South teams are now 4-5 in the national tournament this year...The Tigers are 7-9 against teams in this year's national tournament... Coming into the game against Montana Western, Campbellsville had won five of its last six games.
Montana Western is making its 15th appearance in the postseason, including its fourth-straight and seventh in the last eight years...The Bulldogs have a 10-14 record all-time in the national tournament, including 2-6 in the second round...Montana Western last advanced to the quarterfinals in 2013, when the Bulldogs lost, 83-79, to SAGU (Texas)...Montana Western is one of three Frontier Conference teams in this year's national tournament and one of two to make it to the second round...The Frontier Conference is 3-1 at this year's national tournament... The Bulldogs are 5-6 against teams in this year's national tournament...The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games and nine of their last 11.