by Matt Bos-Media Coordinator
Point Lookout, Mo.– (Box Score) Colton Kooima knocked down a contested jumper with three seconds left to give No.4 Northwestern a thrilling 78-76 win over No.5 Washington Adventist in a first round match-up at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Northwestern College, the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament champion, moves on with a 27-6 record, the most wins since 2007-08 season.
A Parker Mulder lay-up tied the game at 76 with a minute left and the Red Raiders followed with a defensive stop, getting possession with 35 seconds left in regulation. Following a timeout, Northwestern put its fate in the hands of Kooima, who held the ball at half court until a drive to the left baseline led to the game winner over a pair of Shock defenders.
Kooima led NWC with 22 points, 14 coming in the first half. Nathan Wedel dropped in 18, going 7-for-10 from the floor, despite limited minutes due to fouls. Both Derek Buysse and Jordan Baker came off the bench to score 10 for the Red Raiders, who shot 53% for the game.
Northwestern had the momentum early, running out to a 13-5 lead after three-pointers by Kooima (2) and Wedel (1). The Red Raiders pushed their lead to as much as 11 but the Shock kept in contact, getting to within six by half, 43-37.
The game remained tight with six ties and four lead changes during the final 20 minutes. A jumper by Tyrus Fleetwood put Washington Adventist up by four (74-70) at the 2:45 mark but successive baskets by Mulder and Kooima tied the game at 74, setting up the dramatic final minute.
Brian Bridgeforth led all players with 23 points and 13 rebounds, using his 6-10 frame to have his way in the post. Elliot Meredith complimented Bridgeforth with 19 points and six boards and Tyrus Fleetwood scored 17. Washington Adventist closes the season with a 22-7 overall record.
Northwestern will face either No.1 Indiana Wesleyan or No.8 Corban (Ore.) in a second round game on Friday, March 10 at noon. For more information on the national championship, click here. To watch the live video stream, go to NAIANetwork.com.