KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box;video) No. 7 seed Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) placed five scorers in double-digits en route to a 103-88 victory over Baker (Kan.) in the first round of the 2012 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship on Wednesday evening. The Saints are appearing in their first-ever event, which is played at Municipal Auditorium.
With the victory, the Saints advance to the second round to play No. 10 Biola (Calif.) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. CST. The Eagles notched a 69-57 victory against Campbellsville (Ky.) earlier in the day.
Robert Martinez, a junior guard from Houston, Texas, was the storyline as he hit a tournament-tying 10 3-pointers on 22 attempts. He posted a season-high 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting overall. He wasn't alone in the scoring department. Mike Brown contributed 19 points and added 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Lo Ron Smith and Josh Orta also finished with 12 points apiece.
"Robert Martinez is great," said Our Lady of the Lake coach Russell Vanlandingham. "He came from an inner-city school in Houston, and he has been one of our biggest success stories. He was an NAIA All-America selection last year and a pre-season NAIA All-American this year. He has come through for his team. I couldn't be more proud."
Baker, who is playing in its first NAIA Division I tournament since 1941, was heading to a blow-out win after starting on a 21-6 run. A bucket by Baba Diallo handed Baker its largest lead of the game at the 13:00 minute mark. However, at that point, the Saints started chipping away.
Orta, who nailed one of the team's 14 treys, ignited a 38-21 run to close out the first half. As the first 20 minutes concluded, Our Lady of the Lake held a 44-42 edge. Martinez had already put up 22 points.
The Saints slowly pulled away in the second half with the help of baskets by Smith and Brown. The pair helped the Saints hold at least an eight-point cushion for the rest of the game.
Jordan Honore led the Wildcats with 17 points. Ben Steinlage added 14 points and a team-high five rebounds. Baker shot a sizzling 54 percent (33-of-61) but had 25 turnovers.
"We got off to a great start and handled their pressure well early," said Baker head coach Brett Ballard. "We had about a six to seven minute stretch there when we didn't execute and allowed them to get back into the game. OLLU's goal is to get you to lose your poise with the pressure they put on you. Those guys (Our Lady of the Lake) are just relentless. We didn't make enough stops defensively, and therefore we were not able to get over the hump."
Baker, members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, wraps up its year at 21-12.
Baker - Baker makes its first trip to the NAIA Division I national tournament since 1941 ... With today's loss, the Wildcats drop to 0-3 all time in national tournament play ... Baker finishes the season with 21 wins - third most in school history ... The Wildcats rank fourth nationally in field goal percentage defense holding opponents to 39%, which is right where the Saints shot (40%) ... Baker Head Coach Brett Ballard spent two years playing under Roy Williams at the University of Kansas before becoming part of Bill Self's coaching staff from 2003-2010.
Our Lady of the Lake - Our Lady of the Lake makes its first national tournament appearance this year in only its third year of playing NAIA basketball ... The Saints' Robert Martinez tied the national tournament single-game record for three-pointers made in a game with 10, sharing the mark with Greg Sutton of Oral Roberts (Okla.) in 1990 ... Coming into the game, Martinez ranked third in the NAIA in 3-pointers/game (3.38) and fourth in total 3-pointers (98)... The Saints have scored 100+ points in sixteen games this season, including seven of its last eight ... Our Lady of the Lake sports five players averaging double-figure scoring this season and as a team, is averaging a NAIA-best 100.2 ppg ... The Saints are in the top-ten in twelve team offensive categories, including points per game and 3-point field goals made per game.