By Matt Bos, NAIA Media Coordinator
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – (Box Score) Robert Morris (Ill.) completes Monday’s Fab Four with a narrow 79-78 win over William Penn (Iowa) in the final game of the quarterfinals at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
A basket by Jarrell Turner put the Eagles up five (78-73) with 3:36 left to play. William Penn guard Blake Walker drove and converted a lay-up for a quick answer and made it a three-point game. Still a three-point game, Alec Schwab scored the final points of the game on a jumper with just over a minute left making it a one-point Robert Morris lead (79-78). The teams combined to go 0-for-2 from the field and 0-for-6 from the free throw line over the final minute as the Eagles hung on for the narrow victory.
William Penn had averaged 112 points in its two prior wins at the championship but was held in check by a nice defensive effort by Robert Morris.
Turner led Robert Morris with 18 points and 16 rebounds, one shy of this year’s championship high. Demarko Nash netted 13 to go with five assists before fouling out with six seconds left in the game. Maurice Williams (12), Harry Singh (11) and Keshaune McKinney (10) were also in double figures. The Eagles had their struggles shooting, going 43% from the field and 25% (6-for-24) from the three-point arc, but used a 50-37 advantage on the boards which led to many second chance points.
Trying to make a return trip to the Fab Four, William Penn, last year’s runner-up, started out of the gate fast, scoring the first eight points of the game. They stretched their lead to as much as nine but the resilient Eagles fought their way back to tie it at 35 before a three-pointer by WPU forward Kelly Madison put the Statesmen back in front 38-35 at the break.
William Penn clung to a small lead for the early portions of the second half but a three-pointer by Nash put Robert Morris on top for good (58-57) with 11 minutes left to go. RMU pushed its advantage to as much as seven (72-65) on a basket by Williams but William Penn closed the gap down to one in the end on a 13-7 run.
The Statesmen shot 47% for the game but had their struggles from the free throw line, shooting just 44% from the charity stripe. Madison led the way with 24 points and Schwab, coming off a 42-point effort against St. Thomas in the second round, put in 22. They finish the season with a 24-10 record.
Robert Morris improves to 26-9 and will play no. 10 Midland in the second semifinal game on Monday, March 17.