by Matt Bos, NAIA Media Coordinator
Point Lookout, Mo.— (Box Score) The third match-up of the 2017 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship pitted teams with 52 combined wins in 24 trips at the championship. University of Saint Francis pulled away from Oregon Tech over the final six minutes to earn a 100-92 win in match-up between two championship-tested teams.
USF improves to 23-10 on the year while the Hustin’ Owls season comes to and end at 24-10.
All-American Bryce Lienhoop led USF with 24 points and 14 rebounds, his 21st career double-double. Cougars’ teammate Kyle Sovine also tallied a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards while Austin Compton came off the bench to score 15.
It was Oregon Tech that pushed out to the early advantage, taking command 20-13 after a three-pointer by Brandon Halter. USF turned the tide back in its favor, led by Lienhoop, who scored seven during his team’s 17-4 run giving the Cougars a 33-24 lead. The Hustlin’ Owls made it a two-point game by the break, 48-46.
A Bryan Beard jumper in the paint gave OIT its final lead early in the second frame. Saint Francis went ahead for good after a free throw by Compton but the game remained tight over 10 minutes. Up by just one (76-75), USF scored the next eight points to pull away and become the ninth team to win 20+ games at the championship (20-7).
Oregon Tech, one of five teams from the Cascade Collegiate Conference in the 32-team field, was led by Joel Yellow Owl, who scored a 2017 championship best 32 points. Both Mitchell Fink and Beard were also in double figures with 19 and 14, respectively.
Saint Francis will play No. 1 seed Cornerstone in a second round match-up on Friday at 8:30am. For more information on the national championship, click here. To watch the live video stream, go to NAIANetwork.com.