SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – (Box Score) The 2018 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Cypress Risk Managment got underway with the opening game going into overtime with No. 2 seed St. Thomas (Fla.) edging seventh-seeded Michigan-Dearborn 79-77 on Wednesday.
The win is the Bobcats’ fourth all-time in championship history in their eighth appearance, who improve to 4-4 in the opening round. Meanwhile, the Wolverines, making their first-ever appearance in the national tournament, end the season with a 21-13 overall record.
Michigan Dearborn played the entire first half from behind but battled back from a 32-22 deficit to cut the margin to 36-33 at the break thanks to an 11-4 run.
The game was tight throughout the second half. The Wolverines, who never led by more than two points in the contest, got a clutch three-pointer from Gage Throgmorton to claim a 67-65 led with 49 seconds remaining. Khalil Williams pulled St. Thomas even at 67-all with a layup off the glass with 36 seconds to go.
Michigan Dearborn went for the win in regulation, but Mafiaion Joyner’s 3-pointer rimmed out as the game moved to overtime.
Tim Sada began the extra period with a three-pointer, giving St. Thomas a 70-67 lead with 4:35 left. The Bobcats never trailed again, but the outcome was not secured until the final buzzer. Up 78-77, Mikon Hewitt hit 1-of-2 free throws to put St. Thomas up two with 14 seconds to go. Michigan Dearborn attempted to send the game into another overtime period but the shot rimmed out and sent St. Thomas into the second round.
Raheem Bowman led St. Thomas with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Sada and Williams each posted 17 points.
Joyner came off the bench for the Wolverines to pour in 27 points, hitting 6-of-13 from 3-point range. Throgmorton and Jason Penn chipped in 13 points apiece. Penn also recorded a double-double as he pulled down 13 rebounds.
St. Thomas (23-7) advances to play the winner of the Oregon Tech-Briar Cliff (Iowa) game on Friday at 10:15 a.m. CST.