Kansas City, Mo. - (Box;video) Unseeded Evangel (Mo.) used an 18-6 game-opening spurt and never looked back in the 60-49 upset over No. 8-seed Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) this afternoon at the 75th Anniversary Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. In game four of the tournament, the Crusaders never trailed in a contest that saw Lindsey Wilson shoot just 37 percent. The event is held at Municipal Auditorium.
Evangel will meet up with No. 9 Rogers State (Okla.) on Friday at 9 a.m. CST. Rogers State was a 62-57 winner earlier today over Tougaloo (Miss.).
"I thought our defense was the key today," said Evangel head coach Steve Jenkins. "We made it difficult for them to run their sets. We prepared our guys well, but they executed their assignments defensively very well."
Sophomore Zack Kleine, who teamed up with junior Stephen Cotten, helped the Crusaders to the fast start. Kleine scored 10 points, which included two 3-pointers, to give Evangel the early momentum. His play was key because the Blue Raiders, who end their season at 21-10, tied the game four different times in the first half. Evangel took a 27-24 lead into the locker room.
As Kleine cooled off in the second half, Cotten got going with 11 points. His jumper, which preceded a trey by Jayme Donnelly at the 2:23 mark, pushed the Evangel lead back at 11, 56-45. That deficit was too much for Lindsey Wilson to overcome.
Junior Kalen Kimberland led the Blue Raiders with 15 points. Leading scorer Chase Spreen was limited to six points on just 3-of-9 shooting.
"We simply did not play very good defense tonight and gave up way too many threes against a team that really took advantage of our lack of defensive effort," said Lindsey Wilson head coach Paul Peck. "You have to give Evangel a lot of credit. They played better than we did, they controlled the tempo of the game, and they appeared follow their game plan. They deserve to move on."
There were a combined 40 turnovers, with Evangel losing it 21 times.
Evangel - This is the Crusaders third-consecutive appearance in the national tournament and third overall ... Today's win was its second-consecutive opening round victory ... The Crusaders rank 10th nationally in team defense allowing only 63.5 ppg ... Jason Donnelly currently sits second in NAIA Division I in 3-point field goal percentage at 47.4% ... Evangel's win was only the fourth time an unseeded team has knocked off the No. 8 seed since 2000, improving No. 8 seeds to 9-4 in that stretch.
Lindsey Wilson - Lindsey Wilson is the in the national tournament for the tenth time overall and the seventh time since 2000 ... The Blue Raiders have an overall record of 6-10 in the tournament but have now lost two-consecutive openers ... In 2009, Lindsey Wilson lost to Texas Wesleyan in its tourney opener ... Overall, the Blue Raiders entered the game second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.388), but ended this game just 5-of-20 (.250).