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Mountain State Returns to Quarterfinals

March 16, 2012
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box score) Cam Miller's hot shooting kept Mountain State (W.Va.) close in the first half before the Cougars took control in the second stanza on their way to an 88-74 win over Martin Methodist (Tenn.) in the second round of the 2012 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship on Friday.

Mountain State advances to the quarterfinals and will play the winner between Southern-New Orleans (La.) and Georgetown (Ky.) on Saturday at 8 p.m. CDT.

Miller nailed five of his first six 3-point attempts as he scored 17 points in the opening 11:18 of the game, giving the Cougars a 26-18 lead. But Miller went silent the rest of the half, and Martin Methodist would outscore Mountain State 24-10 over the next 8:41 until a Chris Price 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer closed the Cougar deficit to three.

The second half belonged to Mountain State, which regained the lead, 47-46, at the 17:39 mark of the second half after a Devon Peterson basket. Miller would drill his final 3-pointer of the game 29 seconds later, and the Cougars would extend the lead to 59-51 with 14:38 left after a pair of Isaiah Hill free throws.

"We got a big steal to start the second half and a lay-up," Mountain State head coach Bob Bolen said. "Then we got fouled on a 3-point shot and we took that momentum. When we got the lead, we have some veteran players who really worked hard and did a good job with it."

The RedHawks would get back within five points at 67-62 with a Jeremy Rodgers' fast-break bucket at the 9:02 mark. However, Martin Methodist was crippled by the loss of James Justice, who fouled out with 9:41 left in the game after being called for a charge. Justice, playing in his final collegiate game, finished with 12 points despite being limited to 15 minutes due to foul trouble.

"This is not the way we had hoped it would end," Martin Methodist head coach Andy Sharpe said. "But I'm very proud of this senior class. We've had two great seasons back-to-back, and this season with a huge target on our back. Together we have traveled a great path and into some unchartered waters. I love this senior class like they are my sons."

Miller padded his stats in the final two minutes by downing all six free throw attempts to put him at 28 points for the game. The 6-foot-9 senior forward, who carried a team best scoring average of 14.6 points per game into the tournament, posted 30 points in the team's first-round victory over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Wednesday. He is now 9-for-22 from the 3-point line and 15-for-17 from the charity stripe at this year's tournament.

Ree McCrory paced the RedHawks with 23 points. Teammate Rodgers ended up with a double-double at 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Mountain State forward Isaiah Hill finished with 15 points, 10 of which came in the second half, and a team-high seven rebounds. The Cougars shot 49.0 percent (25-for-51) compared to 36.8 percent (25-for-68) for Martin Methodist.

Mountain State, last season's national runner up, improved to 25-6 this season and 26-12 all-time in its 14 national tournament appearances. Martin Methodist ends its season at 28-7 overall and fell to 6-7 in seven appearances at the National Championship.

Game notes:
Mountain State - Mountain State advanced to the quarterfinal round for the fifth time in 14 attempts and the third time in the last five seasons ... The Cougars improved to 26-12 all-time at the national tournament ... Mountain State scored at least 85 points for the 16th time this season and went 14-2 in those games ... Senior forward Cam Miller had his eighth game of the season with 20 or more points and is the tournament's leader in total points thus far with 58 through two games.

Martin Methodist - Martin Methodist falls in the second round for the third time in its seven national tournament appearances with the last time coming in 2002 to Oklahoma Baptist ... The RedHawks dropped to 6-7 all-time at the national tournament ... Martin Methodist ranks third in the NAIA in steals per game (11.6) and fourth in turnover margin (plus-5.2) ... Senior guard Ree McCrory finished his two-year career at Martin Methodist with 1,239 points, averaging 17.5 for his 71-game career.