KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Box score;video) Oklahoma Baptist appeared well on its way to winning its third national title in school history, racing out to a 16-1 lead on Tuesday. Concordia (Calif.) responded with a massive run of its own, and the Eagles celebrated their first national championship since 2003 and second overall with a 72-69 win at the 75th Anniversary Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship in Kansas City, Mo.
"They were a great team, and they showed how good they were jumping out on us early," Concordia head coach and Rawlings-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coach of the Year Ken Ammann said. "We showed how much heart we have by coming back. I am so proud of our guys. What a great group of guys to be around, and it was so much fun all year."
The Municipal Auditorium crowd held its collective breath as Oklahoma Baptist got three cracks at a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds. Emmanuel Wilson of the Bison misfired on a three in the corner with 16 seconds left, but David Johnson tracked down the offensive rebound and Oklahoma Baptist called timeout with nine seconds left. Wilson got another chance with three seconds to go, but his attempt from several feet beyond the arc was blocked by Tommy Stangl, kicking the ball over to Heath McKay, whose rushed 3-pointer rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
"We got a lead and then started turning the ball over and didn't even make them work," Oklahoma Baptist head coach Doug Tolin said. "We got a good look and a good shot at the end. I think our kids have set the bar high for OBU basketball as far as character and heart."
The heart-wrenching final seconds were set up by a furious rally in the last 3:30 for the Bison, who trailed 67-57 after a Tommy Granado bucket at the 3:28 mark. Wilson sparked a 12-3 run for Oklahoma Baptist by draining a 3-pointer at the top of the key. The Bison trimmed the deficit all the way down to one after Wilson knocked in another three off a loose ball and Jacobi Isham went for a basket with :36 remaining.
Oklahoma Baptist was forced to foul Austin Simon on the ensuing Concordia possession. Simon, who poured in 10 of his 13 points in the second half, drilled both free throws to set the stage for the frantic closing 25 seconds. The entire Eagle bench swarmed the court as McKay's attempt bounded long.
Tournament MVP Cameron Gliddon was held to 11 points, and he fouled out with 4:17 left in the game with the Eagles holding a 10-point advantage. The 6-foot-5 senior guard did not score his first point until sinking a pair of free throws at the 5:31 mark of the first half. He then nailed a long 3-pointer that edged Concordia in front, 33-31, at the half. Gliddon later found a rhythm midway through the second half, finding the bottom of the net on 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. The second trey tied former Eagle Jeremy Groth's tournament record for 3-pointers in a single event with 21 and gave Concordia a 57-48 lead with 9:32 left.
Gliddon would not get another attempt from the field as he finished the 2012 tournament with 92 points (18.4 average) as he connected on 21-of-39 3-point tries in five games.
The Eagles appeared as though they may be doomed after trailing by 15 points less than four minutes into the game. Oklahoma Baptist's Desmond Griffin went for two in the paint to push the lead to 18-3 with 14:51 left in the first half, but the Bison would fail to notch another field goal until the 6:56 mark when David Johnson's bucket allowed them to regain the lead at 22-21. The extended drought saw Oklahoma Baptist turn it over seven times as Concordia put together a 19-3 run that put the Eagles in front.
Concordia then took control out of the gate in the second half, featuring back-to-back 3-pointers by Simon, who scored the Eagles' first eight points of the half. The Simon spurt gave Concordia a 41-35 advantage with 17:24 to go.
The Eagles, who shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the first half, heated up in the second half to finish at 45.0 percent (27-for-60) for the game. Concordia's Tommy Granado paced the team with 16 points, 14 of which came in a huge first half.
Wilson, the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Player of the Year, led the Bison with 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Marques Anderson posted 15 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma Baptist, which played without the services of DeAngelo McIntosh, who suffered an injury in the semifinal victory.
Concordia closes its season at 31-7 and improved to 24-8 all-time in 10 national tournament appearances. Oklahoma Baptist ends its season at 32-5 overall and fell to 58-22 in 25 appearances at the National Championship.
Concordia - Concordia wins its second national championship, last winning the crown in 2003 ... The Eagles also finished second in both 2004 and 2007 ... Concordia is one of only three programs from the Golden State Athletic Conference (Azusa Pacific, Biola) to advance to the championship game ... The Eagles finished the season 26-1 when leading at halftime ... Concordia is now 24-8 (.750) all-time at the national tournament, the highest winning percentage among the teams in this year's field.
Oklahoma Baptist - Oklahoma Baptist has finished as national tournament runner-up six times (1965, 1967, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2012) ... Oklahoma Baptist has now played in eight championship games, the most of any team in tournament history ... The Bison were 3-4 when trailing at the half this season ... Senior guard Emmanuel Wilson finished his four-year career at Oklahoma Baptist with 1,399 points.
Davey Hopkins, Biola (Calif.)
Cameron Gliddon, Concordia (Calif.)
Tommy Granado, Concordia (Calif.)
Austin Simon, Concordia (Calif.)
Derrick Parker, LSU Shreveport (La.)
Brandon Brown, Montana Western
Cam Miller, Mountain State (W.Va.)
Emmanuel Wilson, Oklahoma Baptist
Heath McKay, Oklahoma Baptist
Donald Williams, Rogers State (Okla.)
Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player Award: Cameron Gliddon, Concordia (Calif.)
Charles Stevenson Hustle Award: Dakota Downs, Concordia (Calif.)
Dr. James Naismith-Emil S. Liston Sportsmanship Award: Belhaven (Miss.)
Charles A. Krigel Award*: Tom Kelsey, Belhaven (Miss.)
Chuck Walden Memorial Trophy (given to Honorary Coaches of championship team): Dr. Phil and Mary Pattison
Frank Cramer Award^: Ron Cooper, Olathe Medical Center
2011 - 12 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Player of the Year: Emmanuel Wilson, Oklahoma Baptist
2011 - 12 Rawlings-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coach of the Year: Ken Ammann, Concordia (Calif.)
* given to coach of the team that best exhibits respect, civility, integrity and fair play, the qualities that define sportsmanship
^ presented annually to the person or persons who has done the most for the basketball tournament during a period of years