Sioux Falls, S.D. (Box Score) – It will an all-Crossroads League championship as No. 2 University of Saint Francis (Ind.) used a big second half to defeat No. 1 College of Idaho 70-59 in the second semifinal game of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Saint Francis advances to play in its fourth championship game, all since the 2009-10 season, when they defeated Walsh (Ohio) 67-66 to win their first title. They were the national runner-up in both the 2011 and 2016 seasons. Saint Francis will play its Crossroads League rival, No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan, in Tuesday night’s title contest.
Behind a heroic 21-point, eight-rebound effort by senior guard Derek Hinen, who played nearly the entire 40 minutes on an injured ankle, Saint Francis outscored College of Idaho 34-19 over the final 13 minutes to gain the victory.
Saint Francis shot 52% in the second half and scored the most points against the top-rated Yotes defense at the championship, but well below their tournament-best 89 points per game coming into the semifinal.
An 8-0 run by College of Idaho, six to close the first half and a Talon Pinckney jumper in the paint at the start of the second half, put the Yotes in front 32-25, their largest lead of the game. A three-point play and another basket by Hinen capped an 11-2 USF run to put the Cougars back up by two. Three more lead changes ensued over the next five minutes, with a three-pointer by Nate Brunheel giving College of Idaho its final lead, 43-42, with 10:44 left.
Saint Francis guard Austin Compton put USF on top for good with a three-pointer, the Cougars’ first of the game, with 10-minutes left, and began a decisive 18-5 run for a 60-48 lead. USF limited College of Idaho to two field goals over seven-plus minutes. College of Idaho would get as close as eight in the final minute but Chandler White went 4-for-4 from the line to ice it.
Bryce Lienhoop scored 18 points and White added 14 for USF, who overcame a tough shooting night from the perimeter (3-for-15).
College of Idaho was led by Pinckney and Roosevelt Adams with 13 points each and Gibson Berryhill contributed 11, going 3-for-9 from the three-point line. The Yotes’ shot 36% for the game and end the season with a 30-7 record.
Saint Francis will play Indiana Wesleyan in Tuesday night’s championship game at 6pm (CST) and will be aired live on ESPN3. This will be the fourth time the rivals have played this season (USF is 0-3 against the Wildcats) and a rematch of the 2016 title game won by Indiana Wesleyan 69-66.