Kansas City, Mo. - (Box Score) Sixth-seeded Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) will make its first-ever appearance in the championship game of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship after earning an 80-64 win over No. 2-seeded Lindsey Wilson (Ky.). The Lions will play the winner of Georgetown (Ky.)/LSU Shreveport (La.) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The event is held at Municipal Auditorium.
Mike Nwelue hit 10-of-15 field goal attempts to finish with a career-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds and four steals for SAGU. Dominique Rambo tallied 14 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals, while Tyler Guidry chipped in 13 points off the bench, and Caleb Gentry registered 10 points.
"It was amazing," said SAGU head coach Donnie Bostwick." All season long, our team has gotten stronger and our guys know where that strength comes from. They have a lack of fear and seem to draw on a strength when fatigue tries to set in. They are young men that I am so proud of."
A 19-6 second half run was the difference in the game for the Lions (33-4) as they were able to stretch a 50-45 lead midway through the second half into a 16-point cushion with 3:05 remaining.
The two teams went into halftime level at 31-31, and after Lindsey Wilson tallied a three-pointer by Daronte' Clark on the opening possession of the second half, SAGU used a 12-4 run for what was at the 15:33 mark of the second half its biggest lead at 43-38.
The lead was trimmed to three points with 13:24 remaining after the Blue Raiders' Tony Horne scored inside off an assist by Kalen Kimberland. Nwelue started the run with a blocked shot and transition bucket less than a minute later as the next 10:19 belonged to the Lions.
Nwelue had seven-straight points to start the spurt as the Lions stretched the advantage to 57-45. Clark hit another three-pointer to trim the lead to nine, but after the teams traded baskets, SAGU scored the next eight points to take a 67-51 lead and never led by less than 13 points the rest of the way.
The SAGU defense limited Lindsey Wilson to 3-of-12 shooting during the game-deciding stretch while forcing six turnovers. The Lions held the Blue Raiders to 32.4 percent from the field (12-of-37) in the second half, including a 3-of-20 mark (.150) from three-point range.
"SAGU was terrific tonight and we simply did not play well," said Lindsey Wilson head coach Paul Peck. "I give all the credit to Coach Bostwick and his kids. They had a great game plan and executed it on both ends of the court. We simply could never get on track offensively."The Lions converted 17-of-28 field goals (.607) in the second half after shooting just 33.3 percent (12-of-36) in the first half. Both teams grabbed 43 rebounds, but the Lions took a 19-14 edge in turnovers. Nathaniel Ward of SAGU and DeAntra Scott of Lindsey Wilson shared game-high rebounding honors with 12 apiece.
Wesley Hanspard hit 6-of-8 shots to score a team-leading 15 points for Lindsey Wilson, while Darren Ballou tossed in 13 points and four rebounds. Kimberland and Clark, who entered the game averaging 17.0 and 13.3 points in the tournament, respectively, were held to a total of 10 points on 3-of-23 shooting combined.
Lindsey Wilson ends its season at 32-5.
SAGU - The Lions improved to 4-1 in just their second appearance in the Division I Men's Basketball Championship ... The 16-point margin of victory is the largest thus far in the tournament for SAGU after winning its first three games by a combined total of 13 points ... The Lions are the first Red River Athletic Conference school to play in the national championship game since Texas Wesleyan won the 2006 crown ... SAGU tallied a 16-0 advantage in fast break points and 24-11 edge in points off turnovers ... The Lions are averaging 20.4 turnovers forced per game in the tournament after collecting 19 turnovers against Lindsey Wilson.
Lindsey Wilson- The Blue Raiders fell to 9-11 all-time in the national tournament after making their first-ever appearance in the Fab Four ... Lindsey Wilson had a six-game winning streak snapped with its loss ... The 31-31 halftime score was the lowest combined output in the Fab Four since Columbia (Mo.) and MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) were tied 28-28 during the 2009 semifinals ... The Blue Raiders made 15 free throws, the sixth-straight game with at least 15 points from the charity stripe ... Lindsey Wilson entered the contest scoring more points at the free throw line (65) in three previous tournament games than its opponents had free throw attempts (62).