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Bison Head to Eighth National Championship Final

March 19, 2012
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box score) No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist used a strong first half to take a 77-56 victory over No. 11 Mountain State (W.Va.) tonight in the semifinals of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The Bison advance to play in their eighth all-time National Championship final as they have won two previous titles. Oklahoma Baptist will now appear in more title games than any other team in the 75-year history, surpassing the seven trips by Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Baptist will face No. 4 Concordia (Calif.) on Tuesday in the final at 7 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network. The Eagles were an 81-67 victor over top-seeded Shorter (Ga.) earlier today.

"DeAngelo getting hurt (ruptured patella tendon) puts a little bit of a damper on things," said Oklahoma Baptist head coach Doug Tolin. "He has worked so hard to get here, and his season's been cut short. Jacobi Ishim had great court awareness and made great penetration. We needed to make shots tonight and we made them. When we had good ball movement and we got good shots."

The Bison, who defeat the Cougars for the first time in three tries in the postseason, held Mountain State to 31 percent shooting in the first half. Just 1:49 into the game, the Cougars led 4-0 making two of their first three shots. But, the shooting fortunes would change quickly.

A 3-pointer by Heath McKay at the 18:10 mark began a barrage of long-range shooting as Oklahoma Baptist hit eight treys in the first-half. The Bison blew the game open at the 16:11 mark. Up 11-10, Dingell McIntosh's jumper ignited a 15-0 run that lasted more than four minutes. During that stretch, Mountain State missed eight-straight shots. Conversely, the Bison went 6-for-9 during the outburst to take momentum into the locker room.

At the half, Oklahoma Baptist led 40-25 as McKay netted 17 points.

The second stanza belonged to Oklahoma Baptist. The Cougars got to within 13 at 44-31 on a Cam Miller 3-pointer with 16 minutes remaining, but Mountain State could not slow down the Bison offense.

A pair of free throws handed Oklahoma Baptist its largest lead of the game at 73-41 with 7:31 left. The Bison cruised to the win, thanks to 47 percent shooting overall.

McKay finished with a game-high 26 points, including 6-of-10 from long range. Jacobi Ishim poured in 15 points, David Johnson had 12 and Emmanuel Wilson added 10.

Mountain State ended with a 33 percent clip from the floor, including 2-for-21 from 3-point range. Devon Peterson was the only Cougar in double-figures with 11 points.

 "I enjoy working with this group, all of us do," said Mountain State head coach Bob Bolen. "They worked hard every day, and they were a joy to be around the whole year. Tonight was bad, but there were 28 other teams that didn't make the Fab four. They've been that way on the court, off the court, together. No way am I going to point a finger at them at this time. We all didn't do very well today, and I'm going to give Oklahoma Baptist the credit. They have a good team."

Mountain State, who ends its season with a 26-9 record, falls for the first time in five semifinal games.

Game notes:
Mountain State - Mountain State fell to 27-13 all-time in the national tournament ... The Cougars lost for the fifth time in eight games when trailing at halftime this season, and the 15-point deficit was its largest at the half in 2011-12 ... The Cougars suffered their first Fab Four loss after winning their first four trips to the semifinals (2003, 2004, 2008, 2011) ... Mountain State set or matched season-low totals in three-point field goal percentage, total rebounds and blocked shots ... The Cougars suffered their first loss in national tournament play to the Bison after claiming victories in the 2003 and 2004 events.

Oklahoma Baptist - Oklahoma Baptist advances to its eighth national championship game and second in the last three seasons when the Bison won the 2010 national championship ... Oklahoma Baptist is 8-2 all-time in Fab Four games ... The Bison improved to 58-21 (.734) all-time at the national tournament, a tournament record for wins by a single program and the second-highest winning percentage among teams in this year's field.

Other notes - The 2007 championship game also pitted the number two and four seeds with Oklahoma City and Concordia, respectively ... The 21-point margin of victory was the most in a Fab Four game since the 2003 tournament when Concordia (Calif.) posted an 81-58 win over McKendree (Ill.) ... Oklahoma Baptist senior forward Dingell McIntosh, the team's second-leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, left the game at the 6:39 mark of the first half with a left leg injury and did not return.