By NAIA National Office
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) No. 7 seed William Jessup (Calif.) advanced to the second round of the 2016 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship with an 82-69 win over No. 2-seeded Pikeville (Ky.). The Warriors will face the winner of No. 3-seeded MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and No. 6-seeded Oklahoma City on Friday, March 18 at 8 p.m. CDT.
Darius Clement flirted with a triple-double for William Jessup before finishing with 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Desmond Floyd also recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Michael Patterson chipped in with 10 points and Kelton Newman added 10 points.
“This is the style of basketball we like, and we enjoy playing a team who is as physically challenging as us,” said William Jessup head coach Lance Von Vogt. “We showed toughness, resiliency, and when we needed to we went into attack mode. We’re a very physical team, and we knew this would be a heavy-hitter, big-boy type of game.”
William Jessup (19-10) trailed by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but turned the game completely around to lead by as many as 17 points in the final moments before claiming a 15-point victory. Pikeville held a 44-30 lead with 16:57 remaining, but a 10-0 run by the Warriors began a closing stretch that saw William Jessup outscore its opponent, 52-23, to close the game.
Pikeville orchestrated its own turnaround in the first half, flipping an early eight-point deficit into a 10-point lead just before halftime. With the game tied at 24-24 and 5:17 left until halftime, the Bears scored 10-straight points to set the stage for an eight-point lead at the break, 36-28.
William Jessup shot 62.5 percent from the field (20 of 32) in the second half after connecting on just 9 of 30 shot attempts (.300) in the opening stanza. The Warriors limited the Bears to a 32.8 percent shooting clip (22 of 67) that included just one three-pointer on 19 attempts. The Warriors also enjoyed a 49-34 rebounding advantage to offset 18 turnovers.
"When we don’t make shots, don’t play defense or rebound, that’s what happened tonight,” said Pikeville head coach Kelly Wells. “They shot something like 60 percent in the second half, while we shot 30 percent in the half. That has been our Achilles heel all season long and it showed up again here tonight.”
K.K. Simmons led the way for Pikeville with 23 points, while Macari Brooks added 21 points. Christian Leach and Michael Lewis shared the rebounding lead for the Bears with five apiece.
Pikeville finishes its season with a 25-6 record.
William Jessup – Warriors are making their NAIA Division I championship debut … Entered the postseason ranked No. 4 in total rebound margin (9.2) and No. 5 in offensive rebounds per game (14.9) … Andre Smith ranks sixth in total rebounds per game (10.3) and eighth in offensive rebounds per game (3.6) – he finished the day with 10 rebounds (one offensive) … Darius Clement went 4 for 4 at the charity stripe to extend his program record for single-season free throw attempts to 173 made free throws.
Pikeville – The Bears fell to 4-6 all-time in the first round and 2-1 in the National Championship against schools from California...Failed to advance to the second round for the first time since 2013...Entered the tournament with top ten rankings in 10 different statistical categories...Scored a season-low 69 points and made a season-low one three-point field goal... With his 23 points, K.K. Simmons scored 20 or more points in 10 games this season...The Bears play in the largest home arena of any team at the National championship, the East Kentucky Expo Center, with a capacity of 6,500.