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LSU-Shreveport Moves on to Semifinals, 79-78

March 16, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box Score) LSU-Shreveport mounted a second half comeback to defeat No. 1 seed Columbia (Mo.), 79-78, to advance to the semifinals of the 2013 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The Pilots will face Georgetown (Ky.), Monday night at 8 p.m. CDT. The 76th annual event is held at Municipal Auditorium.

The game featured two different styles of play, with LSU-Shreveport leading in the NAIA Division I in scoring (92 points per game), while Columbia was allowing 55.7 points per game. LSU-Shreveport is only the third team to score 70 or more points against the Cougars this season.  LSU-Shreveport scored the most points on Columbia this season with 79. This is the first loss for Columbia in 365 days.

"We were down nine and we called a timeout and we switched to a defense that we had been saving," said LSU-Shreveport head coach Kyle Blankenship. "It's hard to prepare for it if you haven't seen it. We went to that little half-court trap and forced a couple of turnovers. I told our guys that you've been here before and now you have to find a way to do what you've done all year."

Columbia opened the game on a 12-3 run led by Tanner Sutton, who came out on fire as he was 3-of-3 from behind the arc in the first three minutes and 15 seconds into the game. Sutton scored the first nine points for the Cougars. Marquette Murrell extended the lead to 12-3 after hitting a layup and free throw for the old-fashioned three point play.

After the fast start for the Cougars, LSU-Shreveport went on a 7-2 run to trim the Cougars lead down to four points. Rodney Milum scored to put the Pilots down, 14-10.

Columbia answered with a run of its own as it extended its lead to double-digits to 11, 27-16, with 7:18 left in the first half after Wendell Crowder hit a three pointer. Then the Pilots went on a 7-0 run to pull within four, 29-25. That would be as close as LSU-Shreveport would get for the rest of the first half as Columbia went into halftime with a 42-36 lead.

LSU-Shreveport kept the game close starting the second half as the Pilots trimmed the lead down to two points, 46-44, after a Brandon Davis fast break layup, less than three minutes into the second half. However, Columbia answered right back to extend its lead back to nine points, 57-48, after a Jordan Dressler jumper.

The Pilots made another run to trim the Cougars lead. With the Cougars on top, 57-48, LSU-Shreveport went on a 13-3 run to take its first lead of the ball game, 61-60, with 10:14 left in the game.

The Cougars and Pilots started to exchange leads and ties for the remainder of the game as no team took a lead larger than four in the last ten minutes of the contest. With LSU-Shreveport ahead by two, 68-66, Columbia's Tanner Sutton hit a three pointer to give the Cougars a one-point lead, 69-68, which ended up being Columbia's last lead.

With 5:35 left, Brandon Davis hit a jumper in the paint to put the Pilots on top, 70-69. LSU-Shreveport would not give up the lead for the rest of the game as the Pilots stretched the lead out to four points, 79-75, after a pair of free throws. Tanner Sutton hit a half-court shot for Columbia to put the Cougars down one, 79-78, but it was not enough as the Pilots came away with a one-point win.

"This has been amazing," said Columbia head coach Bob Burchard. "It's been the most amazing ride of my career. Everyone always wants to compare teams from year to year, but you just can't do that because every team is your favorite for different reasons. Obviously it was a phenomenal ride. They made me look awfully good and put me in a position to get a lot of recognition, which I appreciate. We sat down at the beginning of the year and said, 'wouldn't it b e amazing if we really enjoyed being together, lived in the moment and had fun together and if we could be that team it would be great,' and we were. These guys are just amazing people to be around."

Brandon Davis led the Pilots with 27 points and 10 rebounds, for his 18th double-double of the season. Rodney Milum followed with 24 points, on 5-of-11 shooting from behind the arc.

Jordan Dressler led the Cougars with 26 points, on 10-0f-14 shooting. Tanner Sutton followed with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc.

Game Notes:
Columbia

  • Playing in second all-time quarterfinal - won previous trip in 2009, 50-47 vs. Westminster (Utah)
  • Falls to 10-17 all-time in 17 national championship tournaments
  • Was the last undefeated team in any level of men's college basketball (NAIA or NCAA) - with this defeat, falls to 35-1.
  • Columbia finishes with the most wins of any NAIA program in a single-season since 2007 when national champion Oklahoma City won 35 games.
  • The No. 1 seed has now failed to reach the semifinals in three of the last four years.

LSU Shreveport

  • Pilots lost their only previous Quarterfinal game in 2012 -- 84-65 vs. Concordia (Calif.).
  • Overall, they improve to 8-8 all-time in the championship in nine overall trips.
  • Brandon Davis notched his NAIA-leading 18th double-double of the year with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
  • The Pilots came into today leading the NAIA in scoring at a 92-point clip.
  • Davis has scored at least 10 points in all 23 games he has appeared in.
  • Unseeded LSU Shreveport continues a trend in the semifinals - at least one unseeded team has advanced to the Fab Four in eight of the last nine years.
  • Rodney Milum, who finished with 24 points, hit 5-of-11 from behind the arc. In three championship games this year, he is 16-of-34 from long range. The made treys is five shy of tying the all-time tournament record of 21.
  • Milum and Davis make perhaps the best 1-2 scoring tandem in the country. Milum is third in the NAIA with a 22.9 average. Davis nets 21.8, but since he has not appeared in two-thirds of his team's games, he is not eligible for the NAIA scoring leaders list.