Sioux Falls, S.D. (Box Score) – No. 3 Northwestern College (Iowa) saved its best half for last in earning a 75-62 come-from-behind win over No.6 Bellevue (Neb.) in a first round match-up played today at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Cypress Risk Management.
The Red Raiders outscored Bellevue by 19 over the final 20 minutes, much to the delight of a partisan crowd, to advance to the second round.
Northwestern clamped down defensively, limiting the Bruins to just 26% shooting in the second half, and turned the rebound advantage in their favor after getting beat on the boards in the first half.
Colton Kooima scored a game-high 30 points, displaying a nifty pull-up jumper to go with draining four from beyond the arc. Nathan Wedel scored 24 points and pulled down 11 boards and Parker Mulder added nine rebounds and dished out three assists.
Down seven, 56-49, with 10:45 left, the Red Raiders scored the next eight points en route to a 20-4 run, taking the lead for good on a basket by Wedel. Defensively, Northwestern held Bellevue to just three field goals for the final 10+ minutes.
Northwestern shot 47% for the game and made 17-of-20 free throw attempts.
Bellevue was led by the guard play of Richard Reed and Jalen Hall, who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. The Bruins close the season with a 21-12 record.
Northwestern moves on to play the University of Saint Francis (Ind.) in the second round on Friday, March 9 at noon.