March 21, 2006
Kansas City, Mo. - Senior guard Ben Hunt hit a three-point shot with 0.2 seconds remaining to give Texas Wesleyan University a 67-65 victory against Oklahoma City University Monday in the title game of the 2006 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
Hunt's three-pointer came after Oklahoma City senior guard Rory Green made one of two free throws with 6.8 seconds on the clock to give the Stars a 65-64 lead. Green made the first shot but was short on the second attempt. Hunt took the rebound, dribbled past midcourt and launched his shot from the right wing just in front of the Rams' bench.
"Coach drew up the play for me, and the rebound came right to me," said Hunt, who scored a tournament-high 34 points in the championship game. "I knew with six seconds I could dribble to a spot and put up a shot. That was unbelievable."
Texas Wesleyan becomes the fourth unseeded team in the last eight years, and the third since the tournament returned to Kansas City in 2002, to win the NAIA Division I Men's national championship. The Rams posted a record of 25-9 on the season. Oklahoma City, which lost in the NAIA title game for the first time in five appearances, ended its year with a record of 29-8.
"It's so surreal," said Texas Wesleyan head coach Terry Waldrop, who was named the Rawlings-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coach of the Year following the contest. "These guys have amazed me all year and I couldn't be happier."
Junior guard Evan Patterson made two free throws with 2:11 left to give Texas Wesleyan a 63-57 lead. Oklahoma City responded with 7-1 run to tie the contest at 64-64. Senior guard Ryan Godwin hit a three-pointer with 1:59 to play to cut the margin in half, and made two free throws on the Stars' next possession to trim the deficit to 63-62 with 1:20 on the clock.
Patterson then made one of two foul shots to push the Texas Wesleyan lead back to 64-62 with 57 seconds remaining. Senior forward Trevor Meier knotted the score at 64-64 on a basket with 38 seconds left, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
"He was incredible. He was the difference," said Oklahoma City head coach Ray Harper of Hunt. "We thought we had him cut off right there at midcourt. We did a good job (defending). It was a tough shot."
Texas Wesleyan shot 54.2 percent in the first half on its way to a 36-28 halftime lead. Oklahoma City was just as hot from the field in the second half, hitting 51.4 percent of its attempts from the floor.
Patterson, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, scored 14 points and added six rebounds. Hunt was also named to the All-Tournament squad. In addition to his 34 points, Hunt grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds.
All five starters scored in double figures, led by senior forward Dawud Drew with 19 points. Godwin and Green each chipped in with 12 points, while Meier and senior forward Lorenzo Gordon posted 10 points apiece. Drew and Gordon were also named to the All-Tournament team, while Meier was selected as the recipient of the Charles Stevenson Hustle Award winner.
Rounding out the All-Tournament team were Frank Benson of Oklahoma Baptist University, Demario Butler of Azusa Pacific University (Calif.), Stan Chismark of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), Reggie George of Robert Morris College (Ill.), Jeff Hays of Carroll College (Mont.) and Lloyd Lewis of Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.).