By Eric Montgomery, NAIA Staff
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) Emmanuel (Ga.) secured the first spot in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship after a 73-51 win over Cumberlands (Ky.), Friday morning in Municipal Auditorium. The Lions will face the winner of Cal State San Marcos and Culver-Stockton (Mo.) on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. CDT.
Michael Stanley posted game-high totals of 23 points and 12 rebounds for Emmanuel, converting nine of twelve field goal attempts as well as all four of his free throws. Patrick McCrary also recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Luke Miller tallied 14 points and four assists for the Lions.
The teams played to an 18-18 stalemate through the opening 14:07 before Emmanuel finished the half in what would turn out to be a nearly six-minute span that would end up deciding the outcome of the game. A three-pointer by Luke Miller began a 21-2 stretch that included 18-straight points after Tony Bradley scored inside for Cumberlands. The Patriots got a basket from Chance Armstrong just before the buzzer sounded, but the damage had been done as Emmanuel owned a 39-22 lead at the half.
With neither team shooting above 40 percent in the first half, Emmanuel kept the momentum from the end of the first half into the second. The Lions connected on 16 of 28 field goals (.571) after intermission despite missing all eight of their three-point attempts. The Patriots improved slightly to 41.7 percent (10 of 24), but were also just one for seven from beyond the arc after the break.
Emmanuel took advantage of 15 offensive rebounds to claim a 20-7 edge in second chance points and attacked the basket to the tune of 42 points in the paint. The Lions took care of its possessions with a mere six turnovers while recording 17 points off of 11 Cumberlands miscues.
“We guarded our tails off. It’s hard to lose when you play that way,” said Emmanuel head coach T.J. Rosene. “Cumberlands is such a good team, but they didn’t get good looks like in their first game. That’s a testament to our kids and their will.”
Kenny Cowser came off the bench to lead the Patriots with 10 points and five rebounds to pace an effort by the reserve corps that provided 26 points. Steve Goins also provided nine points and six rebounds in a reserve role.
“I think the best team won, so I have to give a lot of credit to Emmanuel,” said Cumberlands head coach Don Butcher. “Their defense was good and they did a nice job on the ball screen. I tip my hat to them.”
Cumberlands finishes its season with a record of 20-12.
Emmanuel– The Lions improved to 2-3 all-time in the tournament after going winless in their first three appearances dating back to 2008 … Emmanuel made just five of its first 16 shots, but made 24 of 47 the rest of the game (51.1 percent) … Stanley is averaging 22.4 points and 10.2 rebounds over the last five games.
Cumberlands – The Patriots fell to 14-23 all-time in the National Championship after failing to convert a field goal until the 16:10 mark of the first half … R.J. Scott, the team’s leading scorer, failed to reach double figures in scoring after doing so in 21 games this season … The Patriots advanced to the second round for the third time in their last five tournament appearances, but have failed to reach the quarterfinals since the 1997 event.