KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box Score) MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) upset the No. 7-seeded Cal State San Marcos Cougars, 109-98, to advance to the second round of the 2013 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The Pioneers will face Oklahoma Baptist tomorrow at 8 p.m. CDT. The 76th annual event is held at Municipal Auditorium.
The Pioneers scored the most points in the championship since 2011, when Pikeville (Ky.) scored 110 points. MidAmerica Nazarene scored the first eight points and held an eight-point lead, 51-43, at the half. Cal State San Marcos battled back in the second half to take its second lead of the half but could not overcome its first half deficit.
"I thought we took pretty good care of the ball, and I thought we rebounded really well," said MidAmerica Nazarene head coach Rocky Lamar. "We thought those were two things we needed to do against this team."
MidAmerica Nazarene raced out to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes and seven seconds of the game and held the Cal State San Marcos scoreless for the first three minutes and 15 seconds before the Cougars broke onto the scoreboard. Cal State San Marcos started to mount an early game comeback and took its first lead of the game at the 12:47 mark after a Bryan Emanuel jumper.
The Pioneers raced back and went on a 12-3 run to put MidAmerica Nazarene back on top, 27-19, with 8:56 left in the first half. Cal State San Marcos did not have an answer to that run, and the Pioneers took an eight point lead into halftime, 51-43.
The Cougars would not go away in the second half, as Cal State San Marcos battled back from its halftime deficit to trail by two, 62-60, with 15:55 left in the game. After that, the Pioneers looked as if they would pull away again, but the Cougars had a different plan. Cal State San Marcos mounted its second comeback of the second half after an Adam Eakles bucket gave the Cougars its first lead of the second half, 73-72, with 11:12 remaining in the game.
The lead did not last long for Cal State San Marcos as MidAmerica took the lead 20 seconds later and led the rest of the game. The Cougars pulled within two points twice, but the Pioneers answered each time, finishing109-98.
MidAmerica Nazarene had five players score in double-digits, led by Jacob French with 19 points. David Clark and Rustin Dowd followed with 18 points apiece. French led all players with 20 rebounds. The Pioneers Luke Thomas also picked up a double-double, with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Jacob Ranger of Cal State San Marcos led all scorers with 30 points on 10-of-12. Teammate Danny Redmon followed with 27 points.
"Early on we had to make adjustments," said Cal State San Marcos Jim Saia. "Give them credit, they have a great transition game, but we did adjust, we fought back. At the end we just got too emotional and committed a couple of dumb fouls."
The Pioneers shot 51 percent from the floor, while the Cougars followed shooting 49 percent.
Cal State San Marcos Notes:
- This is the first national championship trip for Cal State San Marcos - the Cougars are playing in their second year of varsity existence.
- Since winning 14 contests in-a-row between Dec. 18, 2012 and Feb. 16, 2013, the Cougars have gone 1-3 down the stretch to wrap up the season at 23-7.
- Danny Redmon tops the team in scoring average (13.0) - he was right at that mark at the half. He finished with 27, six shy of his career-high of 33 against Concordia (Calif.) on Feb. 21.
- The Cougars were out-rebounded 57-30 tonight - CSU-SM averages 34 rebounds per game.
- The five turnovers was a season-low as a team.
- The nine assists were well below their season average of 18.0, which ranks fourth in the NAIA.
- The 109 points allowed is the most in the school's short history.
- With the loss, the Cougars become the fourth newcomer in this year's field to lose in the first round.
MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) Notes:
- After posting a 24-9 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, MidAmerica Nazarene makes its third appearance in the NAIA National Championship Tournament. The Pioneers advanced to the semifinals in their debut appearance in 2009 before falling to Columbia (Mo.), but bowed out in the first round of last year's tournament to No. 11 Mountain State (W. Va.).
- The last time both teams hit the century mark prior to tonight's game: 2007 in a 4OT semifinal contest between Concordia (124) and Robert Morris (119). In regulation, the last time was a 111-100 upset by Point Park (Pa.) over Lipscomb. In 2001, Faulkner downed Lee by a 108-98 count, nearly mirroring tonight's contest.
- Jacob French (19p 20r) and Luke Thomas (15p 13r) became the 10th and 11th players with double-doubles in the 2013 tournament.
- The first half opened with a pair of runs. MNU started the contest with an 8-0 spurt as part of a longer 12-4 run, but CSU-San Marcos answered with a 12-3 run of its own to take a 16-15 lead at the 12:47 mark.
- MidAmerica Nazarene comes into the tournament as the best-shooting team in the NAIA at 52.2 percent from the floor, but they had an uncharacteristically low 37.5 percent pace midway through the first half.
- MidAmerica Nazarene has hit the 50-point plateau in the first half in four games on the 2012-13 slate. Tonight's 51-point stanza is the second-best on the year for the Pioneers. They victimized Graceland for 50 or more twice (53 in a 90-71 road win on Jan. 26; 50 in a 95-64 home win on Dec. 1) and hung 50 on Culver-Stockton College en route to a 86-74 win in the HAAC Tournament on Mar. 2. It's not the biggest half overall, as MNU poured in 55 second-half points in a 99-92 win at Evangel (Mo.) on Feb. 25.
- Lost in the fireworks is a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night - and a career-high 18 points - from MNU junior David Clark.
- MidAmerica Nazarene is one of the top-scoring teams in the tournament, but has the fewest three-point attempts of any squad. The Pioneers have offered up just 336 chances from behind the arc, connecting at a 36.6 percent pace.