Point Lookout, Mo.—A pair of top seeds comprise half of the four-team, national semifinal field that will begin to playout tonight at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks. No. 1 Saint Francis (Ind.) will play No. 7 IU East in the first match-up at 6pm and will be followed by No. 1 Davenport (Mich.) going up against No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan at 8pm.
Both games will be video-streamed by Stretch Internet.
Three of the four teams remaining have 30+ wins and have had prior experience playing in the national semifinals, combining for eight trips to the Fab Four. Both Davenport and Saint Francis are making their third appearance to the semi’s while Indiana Wesleyan is making its second trip past the weekend in Point Lookout. IU East is the lone newcomer to the national semifinals. The four teams combined have been at the NAIA Division II Championship 28 times.
Three conferences are represented; two teams from the Crossroads League (Indiana Wesleyan and Saint Francis) and one team from the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic (IU East) and Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic (Davenport).
The first national semifinal features No. 1 Saint Francis matching up against in-state foe, IU East, at 6pm this evening. This is a rematch from a game played late at night on Dec. 23 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. USF won that match-up 69-60, holding off an IU East second-half comeback bid after leading by 15 (37-22) at the break.
Saint Francis ended the regular season as the top-ranked team, owning the top spot in the final two coaches’ polls (Feb. 23 and March 2). They are the top overall seed in the 32-team field and have won 15 consecutive games heading into Monday night, the second longest win streak in program history (won 20 straight in 1999-2000). The Cougars are 32-4, setting a school record for wins in a season and tied with Briar Cliff (Iowa) and Davenport for the most wins in D-II this season. USF holds an 18-6 record at the Championship, winning the title in 2010 and finishing as the runner-up the following year (2011), losing to Cornerstone (Mich.) 80-71. The Cougars are the champions of the Naismith bracket, defeating No. 8 Dakota State (S.D.), No. 4 Mount Mercy (Iowa) and No. 3 Keiser (Fla.) en route to the semifinals. USF won both the Crossroads League regular season and postseason titles. The Cougars are 4-0 against teams in the semifinals, defeating Indiana Wesleyan three times and IU East once.
IU East, the No. 7 seed and champion of the Cramer Bracket, holds a 22-13 overall record and earned votes in the final NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Coaches’ poll. This is the first ever appearance in the national semifinals for the Red Wolves, who are playing in their fourth championship overall. They picked up their first ever win at the championship with a 91-68 win over No. 2 Tabor (Kan.) in the first round and followed with wins over Valley City State (N.D.) and No. 1 Briar Cliff (Iowa). IU East qualified for the championship by winning the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title. The Red Wolves have played the other three semifinal teams this year, going 1-2 against them during the regular season.
The second semifinal match-up pits No. 1 Davenport (Mich.) against No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan for an 8pm tip-off. Last year, the Panthers defeated IWU in the national quarterfinals in a thriller, 79-75.
Davenport, one of four No.1 seeds and the No. 2 seed overall in the 32-team field, was ranked second in the final NAIA Coaches’ poll on March 2. The Panthers spent six consecutive weeks as the top-ranked team during the regular season, the most of any team. They have been ranked in the top 25 for 88 consecutive polls, the longest active streak in the NAIA. They won both the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference regular season and postseason championships and are tied with Briar Cliff and Saint Francis for most wins on the season, owning a 32-4 overall record. The 32 wins matches the school record for wins in a season. Davenport is the champion of the Liston Bracket, defeating No. 8 Saint Xaiver (Ill.) 77-62 in the first round, No. 4 Warner Pacific (Ore.) 80-68 in the second round and Warner (Fla.) 77-60 in the quarterfinals. Davenport is playing in its third national semifinal, reaching this level both in 2012 and 2015. They lost to eventual champion Oregon Tech in 2012 and to national runner-up Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) last year. Head coach Burt Paddock’s squad is playing in their seventh national championship where they own a 13-6 record. Davenport is 0-1 against teams in this year’s semifinal, losing to IU East on Dec. 1, 78-67.
The lone No. 2 seed still remaining, Indiana Wesleyan is the Duer Bracket champion, earning wins over No. 7 Bellevue (Neb.), No. 3 Northwest Christian (Ore.) and No. 8 York (Neb.). The Wildcats were the Crossroads League runner-up in the regular season and earned an automatic bid into the championship by being the conference tournament runner-up. Indiana Wesleyan is 31-5 on the year and 1-3 against teams in the semifinal (1-0 vs IU East and 0-3 vs Saint Francis). They ended the year ranked fifth in the final March 2 poll and spent three weeks at No. 1 (Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Jan. 5). IWU won the 2014 National Championship and is 20-7 in nine years competing at the championship. This is their second appearance in the semifinals, losing in the quarterfinals four times (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011).
The winners of tonight’s semifinal will advance to play in the 2016 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship game on Tuesday, March 15. The championship game will be aired on ESPN3.com, beginning at 6pm.
9-1 in NAIA Championship games decided by five or fewer points; have won 14 of its last 16 games at the Championshp by 9 points or fewer.
Guard Seth Small set the program record in career games played vs Keiser (138)
Forward Austin Fox is 13th on career scoring charts with 1,438 points; is program’s career leader in rebounding (892); 395 rebounds this season ranks second at USF (413 is record)
Guard Evan Henry has made at least one three-pointer in 35 straight games
Lucas Huffman’s 31-point effort in the win over BCU was his second highest point total of the year
Nate Niehoff’s 13-point effort in the win over BCU was his second highest point total of the year
IU East is 1-1 all-time against teams ranked first in the poll; def. Indiana Wesleyan in 2011 and lost to IWU in 2014.
Rank second in the NAIA this season in scoring defense (63.8ppg)
Dominez Burnett is the all-time leading scorer both in Davenport and Michigan Collegiate Basketball history (all divisions); Burnett is also Davenport’s career rebound leader (867)
Burnett has scored 258 career points at the NAIA D-II Championship, ranking sixth all-time
Burnett has 72 career rebounds at the NAIA D-II Championship, ranking 18th all-time.
Kevin Rich ranks fifth all-time at Davenport with 1,168pts; second in career three-pointers made (199)
Leads the NAIA in field goal percentage for the season (52%)
Ranks second in the NAIA in three-point percentage for the season (42%)
Ranks fourth in the NAIA in scoring offense for the season (91ppg)
Ranks fifth in the NAIA in three-pointers made (340)
Top Five Individual Scoring at 2016 Championship:
40-Trae Bergh, Dakota Wesleyan vs Indiana Tech
39-Trey Bardsley, Nebraska Wesleyan vs Warner Pacific
31-4x (Austin Fox-USF, Dominez Burnett-Davenport, Lucas Huffman-IU East and Warren Hall-Warner)
30-3x (Kyle Steigenga-Cornerstone, Trae Bergh-DWU and Taylor Young-Warner Pacific)
28-Clay Harreld, Briar Cliff vs IU East
Double-Doubles at 2016 Championship:
John McCloud-Davenport vs St. Xavier; 12 pts, 10 reb.
Travis Giesselmann-Nebraska Wesleyan vs Warner Pacific; 14pts, 10 reb.
Jordyn Coon-Bethel vs Robert Morris; 17pts, 12 reb.
Trae Bergh-Dakota Wesleyan vs Indiana Tech, 40pts, 10 reb.
Jens Kennedy-St. Francis (Ill.) vs York; 26pts, 10 reb.
Stefan Zecevic-Keiser vs Cornerstone; 10pts, 10 reb.
Bryce Lienhoop-Saint Francis vs Mount Mercy; 16pts, 11 reb.
Austin Fox-Saint Francs vs Mount Mercy; 17pts, 12 reb.
De’Jon Bowman-Warner Pacific vs Davenport; 10pts, 11 reb.
Stanley Whittaker-Keiser vs Saint Francs; 20pts, 10 reb.
Jade Miller-Dakota Wesleyan vs York; 25pts, 15 reb.
Roman Delgado-Cal Maritime vs Warner; 13pts, 10 reb.
Eddie Delegal-Warner vs Cal Maritime; 24pts, 13 reb.
Dominez Burnett-Davenport vs Warner Pacific; 22pts, 11 reb.
Kevin Rich-Davenport vs Warner Pacific; 15pts, 10 reb.
John McCloud-Davenport vs Warner Pacific; 12pts, 10 reb.
Thursday Records or top 10 All-time Individual/Team Performances:
Trae Bergh (Dakota Wesleyan)-tied for 10th most points (40) in single game, vs Indiana Tech
Bellevue-most 3-pointers attempted single game (54), vs Bellevue
Most 3-pointers attempted (73), combined two teams (Bellevue-54 vs Indiana Wesleyan-19)
Indiana Wesleyan-tied for fourth most field goals made (43) in single game, vs Bellevue
Indiana Wesleyan- tied for ninth most points (113) scored in single game, vs Bellevue
Indiana Wesleyan- fourth most rebounds (58) in single game, vs Bellevue
Robert Morris-tied for third most 3-pointers made (16) in single game, vs Bethel
Robert Morris-second most 3-pointers attempted (43) in single game, vs Bethel
Tied for third most 3-pointers attempted (65), combined two teams (Robert Morris-43 vs Bethel-22)
Wednesday Records or Top 10 Individual/Team Performances:
Trey Bardsley-Nebraska Wesleyan; most 3-pointers made single game-8, vs Warner Pacific
Nebraska Wesleyan-most 3-pointers made by a team (18) in a game, vs Warner Pacific
Third most 3-pointers made both teams (26); Nebraska Wesleyan (18) vs Warner Pacific (8)
Most 3-pointers attempted both teams (59); Nebraska Wesleyan (35) vs Warner Pacific (24)
Tied for 5th most points scored, both teams (207); Warner Pacific (106) vs Nebraska Wesleyan (101)
No. 1 Saint Francis def. No. 3 Keiser (Fla.), 80-53
No. 7 IU East def. No. 1 Briar Cliff (Iowa), 83-81
No. 1 Davenport def. No. 3 Warner (Fla.), 77-60
No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan def. No. 8 York (Neb.), 89-64