By Matt Bos, NAIA Media Coordinator
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – (Box Score)- Dwayne Johnson electrified the crowd with a game-winning three-pointer as time expires to lead Southeastern (Fla.) to a stunning upset of defending champion Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 71-70 in the second round of the 2014 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
A free throw by Alex Morgunov put Cardinal Stritch up two (70-68) with seven seconds left to play. Following a timeout by the Fire, Johnson took the inbounds pass near the Cardinal Stritch baseline, dribbled all the way across the court and knocked down the game-winner from the left wing over the outstretched arms of a Wolves’ defender, setting off a frenzied celebration by Southeastern.
A back and forth contest right from the opening tip, Cardinal Stritch rallied from an eight-point, second half deficit to grab a 47-43 behind the play of senior guard Derek Semenas, who led all scorers with 30 points. A three-pointer by Semenas capped a 9-0 run and gave CSU its largest lead (47-43) with 12:20 left to go. Southeastern answered with a 13-4 surge, led by Jake Hodges with seven points, putting the Fire back in front 56-51.
From there the lead changed hands 10 times over the final eight minutes, setting up the late game heroics by both teams. Down one (68-67), Semenas slashed down the right side of the lane and hit a floater giving Cardinal Stritch the lead with 30 seconds to go. A missed jumper by Johnson forced Southeastern to foul, putting Morgunov at the line where he made 1-of-2, setting the stage for Johnson’s game winner.
Southeastern shot better from the three-point line (50%) than overall for the game (38%). Hodges led the Fire with 29 points, followed closely by Johnson with 24. Timothy Mitchell added 11 points and nine rebounds despite battling foul trouble.
Semenas was outstanding in the loss and made repeated big plays to keep his team in it. The senior went 10-for-21 from the field and knocked down four three-pointers en route to the 30-point effort. Garrett Borgrud was the only other Wolves’ player in double figures with 14. Cardinal Stritch shot 40% for the game and held a big advantage on the glass (50-35) but struggled from the perimeter, going 4-for-16. They are the second top seed since 2011 to not reach the quarterfinals and close the year with a 30-5 record.
Cardinal Stritch held the early advantage but an 11-4 first half run put Southeastern on top, leading to a 32-27 lead at the break.
Southeastern, making its first ever appearance at the championship, improves to 26-6 on the year and will play no. 9 Davenport (Mich.) in the quarterfinals on Saturday, March 15 at 1pm.