Kansas City, Mo. - Defending national champion Concordia (Calif.) started defense of its crown with a 92-86 win over No. 12 William Carey (Miss.) in the opening round of the 2013 Buffalo-Funds NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The Eagles will advance to the second round and play the winner of No. 5 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)/Culver-Stockton (Mo.) on Friday at 2:15 p.m. CST. The event is held at Municipal Auditorium.
Tim Harris made 4-of-7 three-point shots and finished with a team-leading 21 points for Concordia, while Dakota Downs added 20 points and a team-best nine rebounds. Alex Rudd chipped in with 16 points and four rebounds, while Peter Smith registered 14 points and seven assists
"Today was just a good team effort," said Concordia head coach Ken Ammann. "We played a very, very good team and I'm proud of our guys for closing it out. The first game is always the hardest."
Concordia (22-10) imposed its style on William Carey from the start, forcing a pair of turnovers while the Crusaders missed their first four shots to claim a 13-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. The Eagles led by double digits most of the first half before taking an eight-point halftime advantage.
The Eagles' lead swung between four and 12 points in the second half and was trimmed to 88-84 with 35 seconds to play after a put-back by Jamal Doss. Brandon Hucks missed a pair of free throws on the next trip for Concordia, but Kelvin Nixon had a drive to the bucket roll off the rim with 21 seconds to play. Hucks grabbed the rebound and converted two free throws on his second opportunity at the charity stripe.
The two teams combined to commit 52 fouls and shoot 62 free throws, but tournament-highs through 10 games. Concordia enjoyed a 24-17 edge at the stripe while William Carey claimed a 39-37 rebounding advantage. The Crusaders shot 51.6 percent (33-of-64) from the field, but the Eagles hit 12 three-point shots compared to three for William Carey.
"Concordia is a good team and they shot the ball really well today," said William Carey head coach Steve Knight. "Their experience of being out here so many times helped them early on. We regrouped and really got after them, but they made the shots they needed down the stretch."
Jeremiah Dunnings led all scorers with a season-high 35 points for the Crusaders while Doss collected a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four blocked shots. Daron Bell chipped in with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists for William Carey.
William Carey ends its season at 25-6.
Concordia - The Eagles are making their 11th all-time appearance in the Division I Men's Basketball National Championship and improve to 24-9 in the event ... Concordia has now advanced to the second round in five-straight tournaments, last losing in the opening round in 2008 ... The Eagles are unseeded in the tournament for the first time since 1999, the first appearance in the history of the program ... Concordia is one of four unseeded teams to have won thus far in the tournament.
William Carey - The Crusaders made their 9th appearance in the national tournament, but fell to 1-9 all-time in the event ... William Carey returned to the event for the first time since 1997 when they lost to Hawaii Pacific in the opening round, 82-79 ... The Crusaders' Jeremiah Dunnings was 11-for-11 from the free throw line, the second time this season he recorded that line from the charity stripe and third time he converted at least 10 free throws in a contest this campaign.