by Matt Bos-Media Coordinator
Point Lookout, Mo.— (Box Score) Kyle Pipenger poured in a game-high 23 points in leading No.2 seed IU East to an 84-74 opening round win over Reinhardt (Ga.) at the 2017 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship played at the Keeter Gymnasium in Point Lookout, Mo.
Pipenger blazed the nets with four three-pointers and went a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line to help ice the game for IU East. His teammate, Jacoby Claypool, netted 16 points, including six straight that sparked a 10-0 Red Wolves’ run in the second half that turned the game in their favor. Claypool also tallied 10 assists for the double-double.
IU East controlled the game early, leading by as many as eight in the opening half. They led by three (41-38) at the break but Reinhardt caught fire in the early stages of the second half, taking the lead by three after a basket by Melvin Irvin at the 7:42 mark. IU East then put the game away with its 10-0 run and went 8-for-8 from the charity strip over the final 3+ minutes.
IU East shot 45% for the game and outscored Reinhardt 22-5 from the foul line. The Red Wolves’ held a slight edge, 41-37, on the boards, led by sophomore big man Aaron Thomas with 12 to go with 12 points.
Making its second overall trip to the Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, Reinhardt was led by junior guard Samuel Bunkley with 21 points. Latroy Strong chipped in 12 points for the Eagles, who close the season with a 22-10 record.
Head Coach Mark Hester earned his 200th career win at IU East and will take the Red Wolves into the second round in back-to-back years. They advance with a 27-7 overall record.
IU East will play the winner of the No.3 Northwest Christian (Ore.)/No. 6 Midland game on Friday, March 10 at 10:15am in the second round.
For more information on the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship, click here.