By Matt Bos, Media Coordinator
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo.- No. 2 Oregon Tech defeated #No. 3 Davenport (Mich.), 55-50, in the second semifinal game at the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship. The Hustlin' Owls advance to their fourth championship game and first since winning it all in 2008.
Trailing by one, freshman Bobby Hunter scored on a jumper in the lane to cap a 7-2 run and put Oregon Tech up for good, 44-43. The teams traded baskets over the next few possessions until Jason Gamblin scored in the paint, followed by a quick steal and a lay-up by OIT guard David Clarke put the lead at six, 53-47 with 2:28 left to go.
"The big play was the one-second lob to Gamblin, followed by the steal by Clarke," commented OIT head coach Danny Miles.
A basket by JaVontae Ford put Davenport within four (54-50), moments later but a Gomez free throw pushed the lead back to five and the OIT defense held strong in the final seconds to preserve the win.
Both teams shot well below their season average in this defensive struggle. Oregon Tech shot 34% for the game and did not score until nearly six minutes in. Davenport took advantage of the slow start and grabbed a 7-2, the largest of the game for the Panthers, on a three-pointer by Damacious White.
Hunter brought OIT back, scoring seven points during an 11-3 run, to give the Hustlin' Owls the lead, 18-13. Another basket by Hunter moments later put OIT up seven with three minutes left in the half but Davenport came back to within three by the break (25-22) after two free throws by Ford.
With OIT leading by seven, Davenport began to turn the tide in its favor after a three-pointer by Ford, starting a 13-1 run that put the Panthers back on top, 41-37. The rest of the game, however, belonged to the second-ranked Hustlin' Owls, holding Davenport to three field goals over the final nine minutes.
Hunter led OIT with 20 points and dished out four assists. Clarke and Gomez scored 11 points each and the Hustlin' Owls had a slight 32-29 advantage on the boards.
"We knew we had enough time that if we made a mistake, and stuck together, we knew we could win," said Oregon Tech guard Bobby Hunter.
Davenport shot 39% for the game and was led by Fairfax with 15 points. Ford contributed 14 for the Panthers and James Humphrey added nine. The Panthers end the season with a 32-5 overall record.
"That is what happens when you get to the semifinals," commented Davenport head coach Burt Paddock. "There are some great teams and Coach Miles made some great adjustments to hold back some of our runs."
Oregon Tech improves to 33-4 and will play No. 1 Northwood (Fla.) in the second ever championship game match-up between the two top-ranked teams. In 1999, top-seeded Cornerstone (Mich.) defeated No. 2 Bethel (Ind.) 113-109 in overtime. The National Championship final will be televised live on CBS Sports Network tomorrow at 6 p.m. CST.