By Chad Waller | Director of Communications and Sports Information and Media Services
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) Six players scored in double figures as second-seeded Pikeville (Ky.) eliminated Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.), 103-76, on Thursday afternoon in the First Round of the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in Municipal Auditorium. The Bears advance to the Second Round on Friday to take on St. Gregory's (Okla.) at 12:30 p.m. CDT.
Keala King recorded a season-high 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the winning effort. Five other players had at least 11 points.
The Bears, who entered the game No. 2 in the NAIA in scoring margin (+19.5) and sixth in scoring offense (90.8), never trailed and flexed their offensive muscle. Bruce Reed, who finished with 10 points, capped off a 21-6 run to start the game with just five minutes elapsed. Pikeville extended the lead to a comfortable 60-36 edge at the half.
One of the scoring keys in the first 20 minutes was six Pikeville 3-pointers and an 18-12 scoring advantage at the free throw line.
Appearing in its first-ever championship, Lindenwood-Belleville trimmed the halftime deficit to 62-46 at the 16:18 mark. The Lynx, who improved to 47 percent shooting in the second half, couldn't get any closer after that point.
Pikeville's balanced scoring and solid shooting (44.9%) was too much.
“Our approach was really good, our guys were focused and I think our experience from the past helped us settle in," said Pikeville head coach Kelly Wells. "Our five seniors gave an unbelievable effort. I tell them all the time we don’t need a Superman on this team, we just have to get it done together.
“You can credit Josh Whitaker and Elisha Justice for most of the defense, they gave an incredible effort. They have a big burden on their shoulders, it’s not always the scoring, but defense and running the offense is so important.”
Fourteen Pikeville players saw action and nine of them scored. In addition to King's double-double, Chris Cantino finished with 12 points and 13 boards.
The Lynx were led by the 25 points from Craig Anderson, with 16 coming in the final 20 minutes. Garrett Gaffner chipped in 15 points. Darius Holman grabbed a team-high six rebounds and added 11 points.
“That (Pikeville) is the best team in the country hands down," said Lindenwood-Belleville Head Coach Scott Spinner. "They have six Division I (NCAA) transfers and they are without a doubt the best team. I do not know if they will win the tournament, but they are very good. We obviously found that out today.”
Lindenwood-Belleville finished its first eligible varsity season in the NAIA with a 22-9 record.
Pikeville – The Bears improved to 9-6 all-time in the championship and 3-5 in the First Round... The win is their first since winning the title in 2011 83-76 (OT) over Mountain State (W. Va.)… Pikeville extended its current winning streak to 17 games…The Mid-South Conference improves to 3-0 in the 1st Round this year...Top 16 teams improve to 9-2 in the 1st Round this year.
Lindenwood-Belleville - Lindenwood-Belleville loses in its debut in the championship...The Lynx' 60 points allowed in the first half and 103 total are the highest this season...Lindenwood-Belleville loses back-to-back games for only the 3rd time this season...Craig Anderson scored in double figures for the 13th-straight game.