written by Mike Byker, SID at Dordt College
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score)--The Southeastern University Fire (Fla.) earned a trip to the second round of the NAIA Division II National Championship Wednesday afternoon with an 84-76 win over #16 seed Huntington University Foresters (Ind.).
Huntington started fast with a 9-4 lead after Alec Peterson converted a two point field goal with just over five minutes gone in the game. Southeastern bounced back to take the lead and the Fire was up 17-16 after a Jake Hodges basket with just over nine minutes remaining in the half.
A Derek Hinen basket for Huntington sparked a 13-0 run over the next four minutes and the Foresters were up 36-29 when the half came to a close.
Southeastern wasted no time in closing the gap as Dwayne Johnson scored the first two points of the half and the Fire ran up eight straight points for a 37-36 lead.
Using defensive pressure, the Fire pulled away from a 38-38 tie with 16:57 left to forge an eight point lead at 54-46 with 12:01 left in the game. Huntington got as close as four on two occasions, the last on a basket by Daniel Woll with 8:56 remaining.
Southeastern’s first double digit lead came when Dwayne Johnson scored one of his ten field goals for the game with 6:26 left. Huntington got no closer than six in the final minute as Southeastern secured its 25th win of the season.
Making their first appearance at the championship, the Fire was led by Dwayne Johnson’s 29 points and he also grabbed six rebounds with four assists and three steals. Jake Hodges scored 14 points on 6-8 field goal shooting and Brandon Moore added 10. R-Jay Barsh’s team was 30-56 from the field and 7-14 from the three-point arc but got outrebounded 39-23.
Huntington was paced by Shane Merryman’s 28 points and he made 11-14 field goals and 5-7 free throws and he had a game high nine rebounds. Daniel Woll came off the bench for the Crossroads League member and scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. Huntington was 30-59 from the field but just 2-14 from the three-point line. Huntington was also hampered by 16 turnovers.
Southeastern advances to face Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) on Friday, March 14 at 1:45 pm. With the win Southeastern is 25-6 while Huntington ends the year 24-8.