by Matt Bos-Media Coordinator
Point Lookout, Mo— (Box Score) No.1 Cornerstone used a late game run to pull away from the University of Saint Francis 66-58 in a second round match-up between championship-tested teams. This was the first game of the second round at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Cornerstone advances to its 10th national quarterfinal, improving to 10-3 in second round games. The Golden Eagles move on with a 31-3 overall record and will play the winner of No.2 IU East/No.3 Northwest Christian.
Player of the year candidate Kyle Steigenga scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Golden Eagles. In addition to his prowess in the post, Steigenga proved he can be a threat along the perimeter, knocking down three from beyond the arc. Sharp-shooting wingman Cory Cox netted 16, including a key three-pointer down the stretch to help seal his team’s win. Sam Vander Sluis tallied a double-double with 12 points and a 2017-best 17 boards, tied for second most all-time at the D-II Championship.
Both teams come in with plenty of big-game experience, combining for 54 wins at the championship and three national titles.
The Golden Eagles grabbed the momentum early with a 13-2 run, capped by a Steigenga jumper, that put his team up 23-8. Their lead extended to as much as 16 before a 15-5 USF run made it a six-point game at half, 35-29.
Saint Francis guard Kyle Sovine scored eight points during a 10-0 run to give the Cougars their first lead at the start of the second half. The game was tight from then on with four ties and five lead changes over the next 12 minutes. Another Sovine basket gave USF its final lead (53-52) before Cornerstone closed on a 14-5 run, keyed by fine free throw shooting and a clutch three-pointer by Cox.
Cornerstone shot 41% for the game, 89% (16/18) from the charity stripe.
USF shot 39% for the game, 23% (3/13) from the arc and struggled to 46% (5/11) from the free throw line. Sovine scored 22 for the Cougars and Bryce Lienhoop added 11 points and 14 rebounds, his second consecutive double-double. They close the year with a 23-10 record.
For more information on the national championship, click here. To watch the live video stream, go to NAIANetwork.com.