Kansas City, Mo. (Box Score)- No. 6 SAGU punched the first quarterfinal-round ticket at the 2013 Buffalo-Funds NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship with a 72-68 win over Martin Methodist (Tenn.). The Lions will play the winner of Lee (Tenn.)/Montana Western on Saturday at 2 p.m. CDT. The event is held at Municipal Auditorium.
Dominique Rambo led all scorers with 28 points for SAGU to go along with five steals, four assists and four rebounds. Jonathan Walter hit 7-of-11 shots from the field to finish with 22 points while Caleb Gentry chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists.
"Same thing all year, no fear," said SAGU head coach Donnie Bostwick. "Our guys trusted in each other and the Lord, which makes us a winner no matter the score. Right now we're enjoying the journey and are doing our best to glorify God by our play."
In what has been a trend at this year's championship, SAGU (31-4) raced out to an early double-digit lead, scoring the first 11 points of the game inside the first 1:58. Walter hit two of his four three-pointers as well as a pair of free throws to anchor the early surge.
Martin Methodist settled into the game and erased the entire deficit prior to halftime. Champagnie provided half of the offense in a 10-3 run over 2:38 as the RedHawks enjoyed a 26-25 advantage despite a first-half performance that included a 1-for-11 clip (.077) from three-point range.
A game with six ties and six lead changes was still in the RedHawks' favor before Rambo turned the tide back toward the Lions. The Red River Athletic Conference Player of the Year scored 16 of his 28 points in the final 4:21 as SAGU outscored Martin Methodist, 22-13, after trailing 55-50 following a pair of free throws by Josh Watson.
"This loss obviously hurts, but I am so happy for our team and the way they battled all season long," said Martin Methodist head coach Scott Combs. "There were some really low moments this year, but they turned those lows into highs and made the most of it. I could not have asked for a better bunch to work with."
Martin Methodist dominated on the glass, collecting a 49-32 rebounding advantage that included 20 offensive boards. SAGU countered with just four turnovers in the second half after committing 10 in the opening stanza as well as hitting 12-of-16 free throws in the second half.
Jeremy Rodgers posted game-high totals of 17 points and 14 rebounds for Martin Methodist while Champagnie also recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Watson chipped in with 13 points followed by Demario Williams with 11 points and five rebounds. Martin Methodist ends its season at 21-11.
SAGU - The Lions improved to 6-4 this season when trailing at the half, including both games in this year's tournament ... SAGU is the first team from the state of Texas to qualify for the quarterfinals since Texas Wesleyan earned its spot on the way to the 2006 national championship ... The Lions' Jonathan Walter posted a career-high point total, besting his previous mark of 21 points set on Dec. 1, 2012 against Jarvis Christian (Texas).
Martin Methodist - The RedHawks advanced to the second round for the third-straight season, but fell to 1-4 all-time in the round of 16 ... Martin Methodist recorded 10 steals, the eighth time this season with at least 10 thefts ... Five of the last nine championship games for the RedHawks have been decided by fewer than 10 points ... Davie Champagnie scored all 12 of his points in the first half, but attempted just two field goals in the second half.