by Spencer Scheve, Athletics Communications and Media Intern
Point Lookout, Mo. – (Box Score) An outstanding defensive effort by No. 2 IU East fueled the Red Wolves 73-68 win over No.3 Northwest Christian (Ore.) in the second-round of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship.
IU East advances to the quarterfinals for the second straight year and will play No.1 Cornerstone (Mich.) at 1pm on Saturday, March 11. They improve to 28-7 on the year.
Facing one of the top perimeter teams in the NAIA, IU East held the Beacons to well below both their scoring average (88) and season field goal percentage (48%).
Offensively, the Red Wolves were paced by Nate Niehoff with 13 points and Jacoby Claypool, who fired in 14.
IU East kept a fast-pace tempo, taking a 22-5 early lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Northwest Christian fought back behind the inside/outside combination of Brendyn Taylor and Jay Mayernik, who got the Beacons with in five by halftime, 35-30.
The momentum shifted back to IU East with Niehoff knocking down consecutive jumpers and a basket by Claypool giving their team a 12-point lead (50-38) at the 13:35 mark. Northwest Christian made one final charge and took its first lead, 58-57, on a field goal by Michael Loomis, but a Red Wolves took the lead for good on their next possession
The Beacons continued their run, taking their first and only lead of the game at 58-57 with 6:03 minutes left in the game. Not to be denied, IU East regained the lead for good on its next possession with a jumper by Jaylen McKay.
Northwest Christian’s season comes to an end with a 25-6 record. Taylor scored 19 and Mayernik added 17 points and 11 boards.
For more information on the national championship, click here. To watch the live video stream, go to NAIANetwork.com.