written by Mike Byker, Sports Information Director at Dordt College
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Box Score)- Robert Morris University (Ill.) prevailed in overtime 69-66 over No. 14 University of Saint Francis (Ind.) on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Men’s NAIA Division II National Championship at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.
The game was tight throughout with the Eagles getting a buzzer beater to send it to overtime and then had to withstand a couple of Saint Francis chances in the closing seconds.
Neither team led by more than eight points and the battle included 14 ties and 16 lead changes. Robert Morris got up by eight with 6:10 left in the game when a Sean Montgomery three-point basket extended the Eagle lead to 51-43.
A 9-0 run by Saint Francis, capped by two Josh Hogan free throws gave the Cougars a 52-51 lead and the game was tied again at 53, 55 and 59. An Austin Fox free throw put Saint Francis up 60-59 and Scott Kohne converted two more free throws with :08 left for a 62-59 lead. Demarko Nash then sent the game to overtime when he hit a three-point basket from the top of the key to tie the game with less than :02 left and sent it to overtime.
Overtime featured ties at 64 and 66 before Nash made one of three free attempts to unlock the tie with :39 left. Saint Francis had two possessions while trailing by one but couldn’t convert and Robert Morris sealed the win with a pair of free throws by Jerrell Turner with a second left in the overtime.
Robert Morris converted 27-64 field goals but just 9-19 free throws. Saint Francis was 23-62 from the floor and 16-23 from the charity stripe. Robert Morris held a 48-38 advantage on the glass.
The Eagles, making their first appearance in the Division II field since 2002, were led by Montgomery’s 19 points and 10 rebounds. Kashaune McKinney added 13 points and had two assists. Nash had 12 points and five assists in just under 41 minutes of play.
Saint Francis was led by Fox with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Kohne had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Hogan contributed 17 points and Kegan Comer scored nine with a team high three assists and three steals.
Saint Francis (21-11) exits the championship with a first round loss for the first time in its last four appearances. The 2010 champion and 2011 runner-up, was making its sixth appearance overall and qualified with an at-large berth.
Robert Morris (24-9), a mainstay on the Division I national scene the past several seasons, advances with a 24-9 record and joins fellow Chicagoland Conference members Cardinal Stritch and St. Xavier in the second round of play on Friday. Robert Morris will play Friday night at 5:45 in the second round.