By Aaron Sagraves, Sports Information Director at Davenport
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score)-Wes Hudson and Austin Kuemper put on an offensive clinic as they each went for new tourney highs of 33 points but it was Hudson’s Golden Eagles that came away with an 84-68 victory to advance to the second round at the 2014 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
“We did not know much about Northwest Christian but had heard they may be the most talented team from that conference, so it was a good to get a win and advance,” said Cornerstone head coach Kim Elders.
In an opening half that saw 11 lead changes and nine ties, it took a Hudson 3-point play in the final seconds to help the fourth-ranked Golden Eagles to a 35-32 lead at the break.
NWC’s Kuemper and CU’s Hudson each had 14 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
Cornerstone, winners of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles, carried the late momentum into the second half as they scored the first four points to up their lead to seven at 39-32.
After the Beacons had the lead down to four at 50-46 with 12:51 to play, Cornerstone used a 12-4 run highlighted by a pair of triples from seniors Anthony Allen and Hudson to go up by 12. The lead slowly grew over the next seven minutes of action and after a pair of free-throws from Hudson with 5:48 to play, CU had their largest lead of 14.
After a timeout by head coach Luke Jackson, the Beacons rattled off six in a row to bring the margin down to eight but the Golden Eagles connected on their foul shots (31-39 for the game) to avoid an upset on day two.
Kuemper posted 33 points on 9-16 shooting from the field and 15-18 from the foul line in the loss as the Beacons finished 22-53 (41.5%) from the field.
Hudson went over the 2,000 career point mark in the victory and finished with 33 points as the senior connected on 18-19 shots from the charity stripe. The 18 makes are tied for the second most in a single game in tournament history.
The individual stuff doesn’t mean much now as all I want to do is win and advance, no matter how that happens, said Hudson. “We have some experience but for a lot of these guys it is their first time here so it was nice to get some kinks out against a very good team and move on.”
Northwest Christian, which was making its first ever national tournament appearance, ends its season with an overall record of 18-13.
Cornerstone (30-4) moves on to the second round on Friday, March 14 where they will meet the winner of Northwood (Fla.) and Friends (Kan.) at Noon CDT.