March 20, 2007
By NAIA National Office
March 20, 2007
Kansas City, Mo. - Oklahoma City University added to its NAIA record for men's basketball national championships Tuesday night with a 79-71 victory against Concordia University (Calif.) in the title game of the 2007 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
The Stars earned their fifth men's basketball national championship, which is the most among all NAIA Division I institutions. This is Oklahoma City's first title since 1996, when it completed a run of four championships over a six-year span. The Stars are also the first No. 2 seed to capture the NAIA Division I title since 1991, when Oklahoma City accomplished the feat to win the first of its national championships.
Oklahoma City, which won its first 29 games of 2006-07, ends its season with a record of 35-2. Concordia, which played its way into the national title game by winning a four-overtime thriller Monday against top-seeded Robert Morris College, wraps up its year with a mark of 31-7.
"This team was well-balanced," said Oklahoma City head coach Ray Harper. "Duane (John) was good last night. Armand (Massogo) was key tonight. We would not have won the national championship without Armand. We knew they could shoot it, and we were in for a tough game. They're a great basketball team."
Junior forward Willie Irick came off the bench to lead the Stars with 17 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Irick was named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of Tuesday's game. Junior guard Kameron Gray, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, chipped in with 14 points and a game-high eight assists, while senior forward Duane John connected for 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Concordia led for most of the first half, building an eight-point lead on three different occasions in the period. A field goal by junior forward Joe Roberson with 9:23 left in the half gave the Eagles a 30-22 advantage. Oklahoma City scored the next six points to pull within 30-28 at the 7:55 mark. The teams then traded baskets and leads until the end of the half, when the Stars scored the final five points of the period. Senior guard Nick Covington's three-pointer gave Oklahoma City a one-point advantage, and a basket by senior center B.J. Walker in the final 25 seconds sent the Stars into the locker room with a 43-40 lead.
Oklahoma City maintained its lead throughout the second half, but Concordia was able to hang close. The Eagles pulled to within 49-47 on a lay-up by junior guard Josh Kramer with 14:06 to play. The Stars were able to take their largest lead of the night, 69-59, when Covington made two free throws with 5:55 left. Concordia made one final push, coming within five points on two different occasions, the last at 7-3-68 on a field goal by senior forward Levi Luster with 2:03 on the clock.
The Stars then scored their final six points of the night from the line to seal the victory. Oklahoma City is now 5-1 all-time in NAIA Division I championship games, with the only loss coming in last year's final to Texas Wesleyan University, 67-65.
Luster finished with a game-high 23 points to lead Concordia. He also added a team-leading eight rebounds. Kramer chipped in with 11 points, while junior guard Adam Greenaway picked up four steals.
For Concordia, Luster and junior guard Keith Lawrence joined Gray and Irick on the All-Tournament Team. Others named to the All-Tournament squad include Zach Allender of Campbellsville University (Ky.), Mack Bealim of Union University (Tenn.), Jammie Evans of Faulkner University (Ala.), Eddie Smith of the University of Illinois at Springfield, Freeman Taylor of Robert Morris College (Ill.) and Brandon Voorhees of Park University (Mo.).