SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Box Score) - The most prolific 3-point shooting team in the NAIA had its arsenal out in full force in the first half Friday as No. 3 Briar Cliff (Iowa) rolled to a 90-74 victory over No. 2 seed St. Thomas (Fla.). The win advances the Chargers to the quarterfinals where they will face No. 1 overall seed IU-East on Saturday at 2 p.m. CST.
Strong outside shooting from Jackson Lamb, Ethan Freidel and Jay Wolfe helped the Chargers build a 32-10 lead just over 10 minutes into the game. The frantic pace was guided by a boisterous crowd as the BCU faithful made the 75 minute journey to support their team.
St. Thomas tried to cut into the lead behind big man Raheem Bowman as the 6-11 center scored six straight points to lead a 7-0 spurt to get the Bobcats to within 32-17 but that would be as close as they would get with the Chargers taking a 51-30 lead into the break.
"I loved the energy we came out of the gates with and obviously making those early three's helped us get rolling on the offensive end, said BCU head coach Mark Svagera."
The second half saw the Chargers cool off significantly from the 47% from distance in the opening half and they held between an 18-25 point lead for much of the first ten minutes until STU got their transition game going.
Trailing 73-48 with 9:45 to play, St. Thomas used an 18-6 run to cut the margin to just 13 at 79-66 forcing Briar Cliff into a timeout. The lead would be trimmed to as few as 12 with 4:31 to play but that would be as close as they could get.
"We took a lot of punches from STU, added Svagera, especially in the second half, but I was proud of the way our guys came back and extended that lead back up to 20"
Leading the way in a losing effort for the Bobcats was Bowman who finished with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds. St. Thomas, who finishes its season at 23-8 overall, shot 45.7% from the field on the day.
The Chargers got 20-plus points from a trio of players as Freidel led them with 25 and he was followed by Jackson Lamb's 21 and Jay Wolfe's 20.
BCU only made three triples in the closing half but still shot 36.6 (12-33) on the day from behind the arc and 48.2 overall.
The Chargers improve to 26-7 overall and will face IU-East in Saturday's first quarterfinal game at 2 p.m.