By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Staff
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) Tenth-seeded Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) earned its first-ever quarterfinal round berth in the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship after posting a 71-64 win over No. 7-seeded Talladega (Ala.), Friday afternoon in Municipal Auditorium. The Lions will face St. Gregory’s (Okla.) in the quarterfinal round on Saturday at 2:00p.m. CDT.
Freed-Hardeman (30-5) advances to the round of eight for the first time despite yielding an early 11-point lead in the first half. The Lions used an 11-2 run early on to grab a 24-13 advantage, but the Tornadoes finished the first half by outscoring the opposition, 23-11, to take a 36-35 lead into intermission.
Brandon Peters opened the second half with a basket for Talladega, which was followed by seven-straight points from Freed-Hardeman. The teams traded the lead three more times before the Lions took control of the advantage for the final time.
Damion Wooten and Ben Meis connected on back-to-back offerings from beyond the arc with 7:48 remaining to give the Lions a six-point cushion. Kyle Teichmann helped put the game away with two-straight buckets, the second of which giving Freed-Hardeman an 11-point lead with 3:06 to play.
Neither team was able to shoot above 40 percent for the game, as the Lions posted a 38.7 percent mark while the Tornadoes were held to 33.3 percent from the field. The Lions were efficient from three-point range, connecting on seven of their 17 attempts from outside. The Tornadoes, however, missed on all seven of its long-range attempts after halftime and finished with a 19.0 percent clip (4 of 21) from beyond the arc.
“I thought our effort was really, really good,” said Freed-Hardeman head coach Jason Shelton. “I thought we did a good job defensively of trying to keep guys in front of us, trying to lock into their shooters and not lock into their guys that were drivers and they were still able to get to the basket.”
Orlando Bass led the way for Freed-Hardeman with 19 points and five rebounds, while Kyle Teichmann added 18 points and shared game-high rebounding honors with 12. Meis also chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“I felt like we didn’t come out really focused and we weren’t ready to do what we wanted to do,” said Talladega head coach Matt Cross. “I have to give credit to Freed-Hardeman. They took us out of our rhythm offensively, attacked our weaknesses in our zone, and hit some really key shots.”
Peters led all scorers with 21 points for Talladega, while Elijah Jones tallied 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. HarifNiron-Hughes matched Teichmann with 12 rebounds for the Tornadoes.
Talladega finishes its season with a record of 29-6.
Freed-Hardeman– Orlando Bass is averaging 22.3 points over the past three games and shooting 54.5 percent from the field in those games … The Lions have won back-to-back games after losing in the first round of their first three appearances in the tournament … Freed-Hardeman came into the game ranked second in NAIA Division I in rebound margin (+10.4) and posted a 49-45 edge on the glass.
Talladega – The Tornadoes dropped to 5-3 on the season in games against teams in this year’s tournament … The 64 points were the third-fewest this season for Talladega and lowest point total since a Dec. 8 win over Shawnee State (Ohio) … The Tornadoes came into the tournament leading NAIA Division I in scoring margin (20.2) and was second in field goal percentage (.509) … Talladega is now 1-2 all-time in the National Championship.