Sioux Falls, S.D. (Box Score) – Perfect execution of coach Scott Garson’s defense propelled No. 1 seed College of Idaho past No. 6 Marian (Ind.), 75-47, and into the semifinal round of the 27th annual NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship. The event is being held for the first time at the Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Top seeded in the Duer bracket, the Yotes stifled Marian’s stellar point guard Wes Stowers with a diamond-and-one defense and a double-team whenever he touched the ball to hold the Knights’ ace scoreless on only five shots. Stowers had scored 60 points in Marian’s earlier victories over Union and Indiana Tech.
After trailing by as many as seven early (9-2), College of Idaho finally got their offense clicking, taking the lead (21-19) on Jake Bruneel’s offensive rebound basket with 3:33 remaining in the first half.
With Aziz Leeks, Gibson Berryhill and Keun Palu-Thompson leading the way, College of Idaho outscored Marian 32-5 over an 11- minute stretch in the second half to put the game completely out of reach. The Yotes led by as many as 32 points before substituting liberally in the final minutes.
Leeks had 18 points (12 in the second half) to lead the winners. Berryhill added 15 on five three-point goals, Palu-Thompson chipped in 13 and Bruneel added 12.
Christian Stewart led Marian with 11 points and Sonny Jordan had 10. 6’11” Reggie Kissoonlal (30 points on Friday vs Indiana Tech) was held to six but did have 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Coach Garson’s Yotes will take a 30-6 mark into Monday’s 8 PM National Semifinal where they will meet Indiana Wesleyan, top seeded winner of the Cramer bracket. Indiana Wesleyan ousted Morningside 86-68 earlier in the day.
College of Idaho was the regular season and tournament champions of the west coast- based Cascade Collegiate Conference.
Coach Scott Heady’s Marian squad finishes a successful season at 22-12.