Banner Season Continues For No.1 Union
by Matt Bos-Media Coordinator
Point Lookout, Mo. – (Box Score) In pursuit of its first national semifinal appearance, No.1 overall seed Union overwhelmed No.3 Trinity International from start to finish in its 98-60 win in the final quarterfinal game of the 2017 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Union continues to build on its school record win total, now 33-3, and earned its 31st straight win. Prior to this year’s Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, Union had just one win (2015) in four previous appearances.
Dynamic duo Tyrone Sherman and Paul Stone combined to score their teams first 13 points as Union raced out to a 13-2 lead in the first four minutes. A three-pointer by Appalachian Athletic Conference player of the year Gerrard Newby put the lead at 18 (25-7) at the 12-minute mark and a putback by Stone pushed the lead to 30, 57-27, just before the half.
Union shot nearly 60% in the opening half, 50% (7/14) from the arc, while its size and athleticism shut down the Trojans perimeter game, going 0-for-9 from the three-point line in the first half.
The lead stayed over 22 points for the duration of the final half as all 13 Union players saw court time.
Union’s senior-laden team shot 53% for the game, 46% (13/28) from three-point range. Newby drained four three-pointers en route to a game-high 20 points and was one of five Bulldogs in double figures. Stone poured in 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Sherman (14), Mike Martin (14) and Sam Natt (11) were the other top scorers.
“Our first several minutes were really aggressive, really impressive,” said head Union coach Kevin Burton. “We had a real good mentality on offense and defense. I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect from our guys as late as we had to finish (last night) and as quick of a turnaround we had to play today, but our defense just really took Trinity out of what offensive looks they were attempting to get.”
Trinity International, playing in its first ever quarterfinal, was led by outstanding senior post Zach Kirschbaum, who closed his career with 15 points and eight boards. Grant Corsi, another senior, scored 11. The Trojans finish with a 30-6 overall record.
Union will now play defending champion and No.1 seed Indiana Wesleyan in the first semifinal game on Monday, March 13 at 6pm CST.