Story By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator
Photos courtesy of Referee Photo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) Three Graceland (Iowa) players scored at least 20 points to pave the way for the Yellowjackets in an 86-82 win over Montana Western and earn a place in the Fab Four of the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, Saturday evening inside Municipal Auditorium. Graceland will play LSU Shreveport (La.), a 71-66 winner over Wayland Baptist (Texas), on Monday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m. CDT.
- Graceland improved its record to 27-10
- Montana Western concluded its season with a record of 27-8
- Higher seeds are 14-13 through 27 games, while 22 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer including 14 by six points or less
- LT Davis recorded his second-straight 20-point performance for Graceland, finishing with 23 points and five assists
- Will Nelson and Jeremy Deemer each scored 20 points for the Yellowjackets, while Deemer led all players with 15 rebounds
- Dom Robinson led all players with 26 points to go along with seven assists and four rebounds for Montana Western
- Zaccheus Darko-Kelly added 20 points for the Bulldogs, while Brandon Jones posted 18 points and 14 rebounds
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Graceland was in control for the majority of the first half, shooting 48.6 percent from the field while limiting Montana Western to 9 for 33 (27.3 percent)
- The Yellowjackets raced to a 24-8 lead at the 11:42 mark and maintained the 16-point advantage at halftime
- Montana Western turned the tables to start the second half, coming out of the break with a 15-4 run over 4:48 to come within five
- Trailing 62-54 with 8:31 to play, Montana Western used a 13-4 stretch over 2:26 to take its first lead of the game, 67-66, with 6:05 remaining
- Will Nelson hit a trey on the next possession and Graceland maintained the lead the rest of the game as Davis hit two pairs of free throws in the final 30 seconds to prevent a late rally
HOW THEY SAW IT
- Graceland head coach Craig Doty – “We played an incredible first half and we really looked fatigued in the second half. Three games in three days will do this. In addition, Montana Western got hot down the stretch. This is expected in an Elite Eight game. We have to find a way to put together 40 minutes if we want to win in the Fab Four. We have a great group of guys who love playing for each other. Now it’s time to rest up, maximize our day off, and prepare for LSU Shreveport.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Montana Western committed just five turnovers, matching the fewest thus far in the tournament
The reserves for both teams combined for just nine points, eight of them coming from the Yellowjackets’ Jordan Dembley
The Yellowjackets are playing in their first NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship...Graceland is one of four Heart of America Athletic Conference teams in this year's tournament field and one of two (along with William Penn (Iowa)) to advance to the quarterfinals...Heart Conference teams are 6-2 at the national tournament thus far...Graceland is 8-4 against championship qualifiers this season...Graceland has won nine-straight games, 10 of its last 11 and are 17-2 since Jan. 17... Jeremy Deemer recorded his 14th double-double of the season.
Montana Western is playing in its 15th NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, including four-straight events and eight of the last nine...The Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in school history, last advancing this far in 2013 before falling to SAGU (Texas)...Montana Western is now 10-15 all-time in the championship...Montana Western is one of three Frontier Conference teams in this season’s field, but the only one to advance to the quarterfinals...The Frontier Conference finished 3-3 in this season’s tournament... The Bulldogs ended the season 6-7 against teams in this year's field.