Story By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator
Photos courtesy of Referee Photo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) LSU Shreveport (La.) built a 10-point lead early in the second half that proved to be enough to hold off Wayland Baptist (Texas), 71-66, and earn a place in the Fab Four of the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, Saturday afternoon inside Municipal Auditorium. The Pilots will play the winner of Graceland (Iowa) and Montana Western on Monday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m. CDT.
- LSU Shreveport improved its record to 30-4
- Wayland Baptist concluded its season with a record of 25-6
- Higher seeds are 14-12 through 26 games, while 21 of 26 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer including 13 by six points or less
- Stevie Clark matched a tournament-high with 34 points, hitting 4 of 8 three-point shots, to go along with three assists and three steals for LSU Shreveport
- DJ Clayton posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Pilots, while Benjamin Batts added 12 points and three steals
- Samuel Kalwanyi led the way for Wayland Baptist with 16 points, a tournament-leading 19 rebounds and four blocked shots
- Ruben Lopez and Trevonta Robertson each added 12 points, and combined for seven rebounds and seven assists
HOW IT HAPPENED
- LSU Shreveport took advantage of 20 forced turnovers to overcome shooting a cold 38.2 percent (26 of 68) and allowing Wayland Baptist to shoot just under 50 percent (28 of 57)
- With a five-point halftime lead down to two at the 16:28 mark of the second half, the Pilots scored eight-straight points to build a 49-39 lead
- Wayland Baptist answered with a 9-0 run of its own over the next 4:34 to close within one, and the teams played through four ties to remain deadlocked at 64-64 with 1:39 remaining
- Clark put the Pilots back in front for good just nine seconds later, followed by one of two free throws by Josh Robinson after a missed three-point attempt by the Pioneers’ Josh Throns
HOW THEY SAW IT
- LSU Shreveport head coach Kyle Blankenship – “Our guys have played as well defensively as we have all year. Even though we are one of the top scoring teams in the nation, we talked earlier in March about what it takes to win at the national level. The games are typically more low scoring where you have to put a premium on defense and rebounding.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Wayland Baptist converted a tournament-low three free throws on nine attempts
- LSU Shreveport committed only five turnovers and scored 17 points off of its 20 takeaways
The Pilots are making their 14th appearance at the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, all coming in the past 14 seasons...LSU Shreveport last advanced to the semifinals in 2013, falling to Georgetown (Ky.), 90-88...LSU Shreveport is now 2-1 all-time in quarterfinal games...This year's opening round win over Harris-Stowe State (Mo.) was the Pilots' first national tournament win since 2013...LSU Shreveport is now 11-13 all-time in Kansas City...The Pilots are one of four teams from the Red River Athletic conference to qualify for this year’s tournament and one of three (along with LSU Alexandria and Our Lady of the Lake (Tex.)) to advance to the quarterfinals...Red River Athletic Conference teams are 9-1 at this year's national tournament...LSU Shreveport is 10-2 against tournament qualifiers...LSU Shreveport and LSU Alexandria are the first set of semifinalists from the same conference and same state since Campbellsville (Ky.) and Georgetown (Ky.) of the Mid-South Conference accomplished the feat in 2016.
The Pioneers are making their 18th appearance in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship and fourth in the last five seasons...Prior to this season, Wayland Baptist's last trip to the quarterfinals was in 1985, when the Pioneers made it to the championship game before losing, 82-80 in overtime, to Fort Hays State (Kan.)...The Pioneers are now 1-1 all-time in quarterfinal games...Wayland Baptist is now 11-18 all-time in the national tournament...The Pioneers are one of five Sooner Athletic Conference teams in this year's national tournament, but the only one to advance to the quarterfinals...Wayland Baptist is 11-6 against teams in the tournament field...Wayland Baptist ends its season having won seven of their last nine games...Wayland Baptist is the first team seeded as low as No. 7 to make it to the quarterfinals since No. 8 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) and No. 13 Mid-America Christian (Okla.) both accomplished the feat in 2015 and were attempting to become the first team seeded as low as No. 7 to advance to the semifinals since eighth-seeded Emmanuel (Ga.) made it to the championship game of the 2014 tournament before losing to Vanguard (Calif.).