By Ryan Thomas, SID at Ashford
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score)--Led by a game-high 28 points from Dominez Burnett, #9 Davenport (Mich.) advanced to the second round of the 2014 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship with a 63-46 win over Ashford University (Iowa).
Ashford guard DeAndre Lowery Jr. knocked down a pair of jumpers to give the Saints an early 4-2 lead, but the Panthers responded with a 15-2 run to take control of the game for good. Ashford would trim the lead to as little as six points before the half but faced a 29-21 deficit when the horn sounded.
The two teams exchanged baskets to open the final 20 minutes before a 12-2 Panthers run stretched the lead to 17 points (43-26), the biggest lead of the contest for Davenport. Ashford would come no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Davenport connected on 48.9% from the floor and 30% from behind the three-point line. The Panthers took advantage of their time at the free throw line, going 14-for-15 from the charity stripe. JaVontae Ford netted 19 points, joining Burnett in double figures.
"That is what we pride our program on over the last six years since I have been here," commented Davenport head coach Burt Paddock. "We told the guys if we can rebound and defend, then the offense will come with the athleticism that we have. I was very proud of our effort to hold a team 25 points below their season average."
Rebounds were 27-24 in favor of the Panthers. Davenport forced 12 turnovers while committing only eight.
“It was a disappointing performance,” Ashford head coach Oliver Drake said. “We’re a better team than what we showed, but we didn’t come out and play the way that we’re capable of. They’re a long team and they caused some problems for us with their zone, but we didn’t execute. We ran a couple sets early that if we convert, maybe their zone isn’t as aggressive.”
Ashford finishes the year with a 23-10 record and falls to 0-3 in national championship appearances.
Davenport moves to 28-6 with the win and advances to the second round where they will face either #8 Bellevue (Neb.) or unseeded Concordia (Ore.) on Friday, March 14 at 10:15 a.m.