by Spencer Scheve, Athletics Communications and Media Intern
Point Lookout, Mo– (Box Score) No. 2 seed Robert Morris (Ill.) earned a hard-fought 86-81 win against West Virginia Tech in a tight match-up to the very end.
The Eagles advance to Friday's second round of the NAIA Division II National Basketball Championship with a 27-6 overall record , winning 25 of their last 27 match-ups since a 2-4 start.
The Golden Bears got off to a quick start in the opening minutes before allowing Robert Morris to fight back and gain the momentum by the end of the first half.
WVU Tech’s tough defensive stand of 15 steals, 12 of which came in the first half, was not enough to out match the offensive efficiency of the Eagles. Robert Morris fired 53.4 percent from the field, powered by Darius Paul with 23 points and Antonio Levy with 20 points, who combined for half of the teams’ points. The Eagles had good success from beyond the arc, draining 12-of-29 three-pointers (41%).
Robert Morris held a +10 advantage on the glass despite WVU Tech coming in as one of the top rebounding teams in the NAIA (+13). Paul and Darius Randolph both pulled down seven to lead the Eagles.
Despite the Golden Bears fight to comeback in the final minutes, WVU Tech fired only 60.9 percent from the free throw line (14/23). WVU Tech also struggled to convert on the Eagles’ 18 turnovers throughout the game.
Robert Morris will face the winner of No. 3 Davenport (Mich.) and No. 6 Tabor (Kan.) on Friday at 1:45 p.m. CST. For more information on the national championship, click here. To watch the live video stream, go to NAIANetwork.com.