By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Staff
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) Sixth-seeded Vanguard (Calif.) earned its first-ever Fab Four berth after downing defending national champion and No. 14 Georgetown (Ky.), 93-85, in quarterfinal action at the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship Saturday afternoon in Municipal Auditorium. The Lions will play St. Gregory's (Okla.) on Monday at 6 p.m. CDT.
“It’s the first time that we’ve (reached the Fab Four) at Vanguard, so obviously that’s a big deal to us,” said Vanguard head coach Rhett Soliday. “We really do feel like we’re playing for ourselves, but also for our whole community at Vanguard, the alumni base, as well as our current faculty and staff.”
Vanguard seized the early momentum in the contest with a 16-3 run to grab a 29-17 advantage at the midway point of the first half. Zach Allmon sparked the spurt with a layup and 3-pointer, while Preston Wynne capped the run with a layup off a Tiger turnover. Georgetown cut the deficit to nine multiple times throughout the remainder of the half, but never pulled closer than that.
The Lions kept Georgetown at arm’s length throughout most of the second half. The Tigers pulled within three points, 81-78, late in the frame on a Monty Wilson floater. However, Vanguard converted 10-of-11 free throws over the course of the final 1:42 to seal the victory.
Turnovers proved key in the contest, as Vanguard forced 12 Georgetown miscues while committing only four of its own. The spread led to a 15-4 advantage in points off turnovers for the Lions. Vanguard also outscored the Tigers, 28-10, in bench points and 16-9 on second chance points.
Preston Wynne, who entered the game averaging 20.3 points per game, scored a team-high 28 points – five points shy of his season-high. Wynne ended the night 9-for-24 from the field and 7-for-7 at the free throw line. Wynne also led the squad in steals and was tied for the team-high in rebounding with six.
Four other Lions joined Wynne in double-digits – Chris Gorman with 18 points, DeAngelo Jones with 15 points, Zach Allmon with 14 points and Selle Hann with 12 points.
Wilson led the way for Georgetown with 40 points and nine rebounds, while Deondre McWhorter added a double-double with 18 points and 11 boards. Through 27 games, Wilson is the tournament leader in scoring with a 34.7 points per game average.
As a team, Georgetown shot a respectable 44.9 percent (31-for-69) from the floor and was 23-for-29 at the free throw line.
“It was a tough loss for our guys,” said Georgetown head coach Chris Briggs. “They took us out of our game, sped us up offensively and got us out of rhythm. I thought some of our guys were a little tired. You’ve got to give Vanguard credit. They made the plays that they had to down the stretch.”
Georgetown, who owns the national championship record for most wins (61) and championship appearances (33), ends the season with a 24-11 record.
Vanguard– Preston Wynne, who scored a team-high 28 points entered the game averaging 20.3 points per game … Prior to 2014, Vanguard was winless at the national championship (0-1) … The Lions advance to their first-ever Fab Four … Vanguard is the third team from the Golden State Athletic Conferene to advance to the Fab Four since 2010 … The Lions outscored the Tigers 28-10 in bench points … Vanguard has now scored at least 80 points in eight-straight games.
Georgetown– Owns the national championship record for most wins (61), championship appearances (33) and consecutive trips (23) … The Tigers fall to 13-4 all-time in the quarterfinal round and have lost 2 of their last 3 quarterfinal games … 2013 Championship MVP Monty Wilson tied a season-high with 40 points, tying his output done on Nov. 15, 2013 against Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) … Wilson goes over 30 points for the ninth time this year and second time in three championship games … Wilson has a totaled 104 points (34.7 ppg) in three tournament games this year and overall, has gone over 10-points in seven-straight championship games dating back to last year … Georgetown, who entered the game ranked No. 6 in the NAIA in free throw percentage (.738), ended the day at a 81 percent clip (25-of-31)