KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box score) A pair of familiar tournament foes faced off on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship as Mountain State (W.Va.) topped Georgetown (Ky.) 83-76. The Cougars are now 5-0 all-time against the Tigers at the national tournament.
Mountain State will play No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist on Monday at 8 p.m. CDT in the final semifinal contest of the day.
"It's tough playing for the third time in three days," Mountain State head coach Bob Bolen said. "Those last seven minutes of the game, both teams were just digging deep. I was real pleased with our effort."
Mountain State led by as many as 15 points midway through the second half, but Georgetown climbed back in it late and made the Cougars sweat it out in the final minute. Mountain State could not breathe easy until securing the rebound off a 3-point misfire by Russ Middleton with less than a second remaining. Cam Miller came down with the ball, was fouled and capped the game's scoring with two free throws to make it 83-76.
A 19-7 spurt by the Tigers that began with 7:12 remaining in the game and finished with 1:34 left closed their deficit to three at 75-72. Georgetown's Middleton, who finished with a team-high 18 points, caught fire as he notched the final seven points during the run. However, the Tigers failed to grab the defensive board on the ensuing Mountain State possession, and two Devon Peterson free throws brought the margin back up to five.
Maurice Pearson gave Georgetown one last glimmer of hope with a bucket in the lane to make it a three-point deficit once again. But the Tigers failed to connect on a pair of 3-point attempts on their last two possessions, and Mountain State's 4-for-6 free throw shooting in the final 17 seconds provided more than enough cushion.
Miller, who finished with 20 points, has now scored at least 20 points in all three games at this year's tournament. He poured in 30 in the team's first-round win over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and then 28 in the second-round victory over Martin Methodist (Tenn.). He shot 6-for-13 from the field and also hauled in eight rebounds on Saturday.
"(Cam Miller) hit some big threes," Bolen said. "He's shooting the ball real well this week, and I thought our guys did a good job of setting picks for him. I thought our guards did a good job of finding him when he was open."
Georgetown also showed promise in erasing a five-point halftime deficit after a pair of Aaron Morris free throws tied the score at 41 with 17:58 remaining in the game. Mountain State responded with a 19-2 run that culminated with a debilitating 3-pointer by Mark Williams off the assist by Mantas Drungys that put the Cougars ahead 58-43 at the 11:06 mark.
Williams drained 4-of-6 attempts from downtown on the way to 18 points. The 5-foot-10 senior point guard served as the catalyst for an offense that made 43.6 percent (25-for-57) of its field goal attempts.
Each of the four previous meetings between the two programs at the national tournament took place in the semifinal round. In the most recent matchup prior to Saturday, Mountain State came away with a 69-63 last season before falling 83-76 to Pikeville (Ky.) in the national title game.
Mountain State improved to 26-6 this season and 27-12 all-time in its 14 national tournament appearances. Georgetown ends its season at 26-9 overall and fell to 54-30 in 31 appearances at the National Championship.
Georgetown - Georgetown is participating in a record 31st national tournament and finishes this year's event with an all-time record of 54-30 (.730) ... The Tigers advanced to the quarterfinal round for the 15th time in program history with a record of 12-3 in those games ... Georgetown matched its second-lowest total of free throw attempts with just 16 after averaging almost 27 per game during the season ... Senior forward Maurice Pearson, who missed the first two games of the tournament with an injury, scored five points to finish his career with 1,000 points.
Mountain State - Mountain State returns to the Fab Four for the second-straight season and third time in five years in its 14th national tournament appearance ... The Cougars are 5-0 all-time against Georgetown in the national tournament, having knocked the Tigers out of the tournament for the second year in a row ... Mountain State is unbeaten in four trips to the semifinals, having lost in overtime to Pikeville (Ky.) in last season's championship game ... The Cougars knocked down a season-high 13 3-point shots, their eighth game of the season with at least 10 3-pointers made.