Story By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator
Photos courtesy of Referee Photo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) No. 1-seeded William Penn (Iowa) held off No. 8-seeded Science & Arts (Okla.), 68-63, to advance to the second round in the Cramer Bracket in the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, Thursday evening at Municipal Auditorium. The Statesmen will play No. 4-seeded Montana Western, a 62-60 winner over Cumberlands (Ky.), on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. CDT.
- William Penn improved its season record to 28-4
- Science & Arts finished its season with a record of 21-11
- Aakim Saintil led all scorers with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and two steals for William Penn
- Dominique Shaw chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Statesmen
- Brandon Scott and Greg Smith each had 17 points and combined for 10 rebounds to lead the way for Science & Arts
- Julius Foster came off the bench to contribute 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Drovers
HOW IT HAPPENED
- An even first half saw each team go on scoring spurts in the final minutes, as William Penn pushed its lead to seven before a 10-2 run by USAO gave the Drovers a brief one-point lead
- Dominique Shaw hit a long three-pointer just before the halftime horn to give the Statesmen a two-point cushion at the break
- The Statesmen took the biggest lead of the game at the 8:11 mark of the second half thanks to six-straight points that doubled a six-point lead to 57-45
- USAO closed to within two with 40 seconds remaining after Luis Baltazar made one of two foul shots, but William Penn made all six of its free throws down the stretch to seal the victory
HOW THEY SAW IT
- William Penn head coach John Henry – “We’ve seen this over the course of the year, teams trying to slow us down, and (USAO) was successful in that tonight. We had to grind it out and play their style, which isn’t something we like to do, but we did and we advanced, and that’s all that matters.”
- Science & Arts head coach Chris Francis – “I thought we executed the game plan well defensively, setting in a zone. It’s hard to shoot here because of how big the arena is, and we thought that could help us out a lot. We had to rebound out of the zone, and we did. Offensively, we had too many unforced turnovers and we missed too many free throws.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- William Penn scored 18 points off of 12 USAO turnovers and recorded 11 fast break points while allowing zero
- USAO finished 13 of 20 at the free throw line, while William Penn was efficient at the stripe, making 12 of 15
William Penn qualified for the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship for the third-straight season after transitioning from NAIA Division II...The Statesmen are 6-2 all-time in the national championship, including 3-0 in the opening round...William Penn has advanced to at least the quarterfinal round each of the past two seasons, advancing to the semifinals in 2017 before losing, 83-82, in overtime to eventual national champion Texas Wesleyan...William Penn is one of four Heart of America Athletic Conference teams in this year's tournament...Heart teams are 3-1 in this year's tournament thus far...William Penn is 3-4 against national tournament qualifiers... The Statesmen entered the national tournament having dropped two of its last three games, both to tournament qualifiers Central Methodist (Mo.) and Peru State (Neb.) ... William Penn led the nation in scoring average this season, putting up 102.4 points per game.
Science & Arts
The Drovers are making their second-consecutive appearance in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship and their eighth overall appearance in the tournament...Prior to last season, the last time Science & Arts made it to the national tournament was 2013...The Drovers haven't advanced to the second round since 2003, beating Pikeville (Ky.) in the first round before falling to McKendree (Ill.) in the second round...Science & Arts fell to 10-7 all-time in the national tournament, including a national title in 2002 and a runner-up finish in 2001...The Drovers are 3-5 all-time in the opening round...Science & Arts is one of five Sooner Athletic Conference teams in this year's tournament field...Sooner Conference teams are 2-3 so far in the tournament... The Drovers went 4-7 against this season's national tournament qualifiers...Science & Arts lost three of its last four and seven of its last 10 games prior to its game against William Penn.