By Matt Bos, NAIA Media Coordinator
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score) Top-seed and defending champion Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) advanced to the second round with a 74-53 win over Northern New Mexico in the first round at the 2014 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship. The 2014 event is being played at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.
The Wolves scored the first six points of the game and never trailed against unseeded Northern New Mexico. A three-pointer by Derek Semenas put Cardinal Stritch up 24-10 and another basket by Semenas put his team in front by 15 (32-17) at the three-minute mark. They led 34-22 at the break.
A surge by Northern New Mexico briefly put the Eagles down by single digits early in the second half but an 11-2 Wolves’ run, capped by a three-pointer by Tyler Semenas, put the defending champions in front by 18 (49-31). From there, the Cardinal Stritch defense took over, limiting the Eagles to just 22 points over the final 12 minutes and 32% shooting from the field in the second half.
Cardinal Stritch shot 43% from the field and was led by Derek Semenas with 26 points. The senior guard went 4-for-11 from beyond the arc and also dished out five assists. Tyler Semenas added 14 and Alex Morgunov chipped in 10.
Northern New Mexico, making its first ever appearance at the championship, was led by Matthew Brito with 19 points. The Eagles were held to 30% from the field and were forced into 19 turnovers. They end the year with a 16-16 record.
Cardinal Stritch, now 30-4 on the year, moves on to the second round where they will face either #16 Huntington (Ind.) or Southeastern (Fla.) on Friday, March 14 at 1:45pm.