POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (FINAL BRACKET; Box Score) No. 3 Cornerstone (Mich.) captured its second NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship with an 80-71 win over No. 13 Saint Francis (Ind.). The Golden Eagles, who also won the 1999 national title, finished off its impressive season with a 34-4 overall record. The 2011 event was held at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks (Mo.).
Ronald Bates scored a game-high 25 points, hitting on 4-of-6 three-pointers, and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds while tournament most valuable player, Caleb Simons, netted 16 points and pulled down a career-best 15 rebounds, the second highest total at the tournament.
The teams traded baskets early on, until the defending champions went on the games first scoring run to open up a 12-4 lead. Still an eight-point game, Cornerstone responded with a 13-2 run sparked by a three-point play by Bryan Pasciak and three-pointers by Kelvin DeVries and Bates to put the Golden Eagles up three (19-16). Neither team would distance themselves from the other as the game was tied four times over the final nine minutes as Cornerstone took a 31-28 advantage into the locker room.
Cornerstone shot 46% in the first half, led by Bates and Pasciak with nine points each. USF struggled from the field, shooting its tournament-low 27% (10/37) and 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. The Cougars held a 20-18 advantage on the boards, including eight offensive rebounds which kept them in the game.
Both teams went on small scoring runs to start the second half. With the score tied at 37, Cornerstone began to pull away and after another Bates' three-pointer, led 49-41 with under 12 minutes to go. USF rallied, however, behind its work on the offensive glass and its top two scorers, DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis and Qadr Owens, who combined for 10 points during a 15-6 run to take back the lead 55-53.
Tied again at 58 with 6:22 to go, Cornerstone began a decisive 11-3 run, capitalizing off of a trio of three-pointers by three different players to open up a 69-61 lead with under four minutes left. USF would get no closer than six the rest of the way as Cornerstone made just enough free throws to preserve its second national championship.
Cornerstone shot 51% for the game and continued to shoot well from the perimeter, making 9-of-17 three-point attempts for 53%. Pasciak and DeVries
also scored in double figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively. The Golden Eagles overcame their struggles from the charity stripe, shooting just 13-27 from the free throw line (48%).
The shooting got better in the second half for USF but the Cougars still struggled from the field, shooting 29% for the game and 15% (3-for-20) from the three-point line. Sawyer-Davis led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Owens added 19. Ferdinand Morales-Soto netted 10 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Cougars, who had 20 offensive boards in the game. The Cougars were trying to become the first team since Bethel (Ind.) to repeat as national champion. They finish the season with a 28-10 record.
*Caleb Simons, Cornerstone
Qadr Owens, Saint Francis
DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis, Saint Francis
Aaron Frazier, McPherson
Jonathan Dunn, Northwood
Kelvin DeVries, Cornerstone
Mike Wiebe, College of the Ozarks
Sadiel Rojas, Oklahoma Wesleyan
Patrick Hopkins, Indiana Wesleyan
Nathan Cox, Davenport
*tournament most outstanding player
2011 Rawlings NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Coach of the Year: Kim Elders-Cornerstone
2011 Dr. James Naismith- Emil Liston Sportsmanship Award: College of the Ozarks
2011 Hustle Award: Ferdinand Morales-Soto-Saint Francis (also earned the honor in 2010)