Mid-America Christian Outlasts Campbellsville, 93-89
Story by NAIA Office
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) No. 4-seed Mid-America Christian (Okla.) guard Bryon Miller scored the game-winning basket with nine seconds remaining to give the Evangels a 93-89 win over No. 6-seed Campbellsville (Ky.) and advance to the championship game of the 2016 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Mid-America Christian (27-9) will make its first-ever appearance in the national championship game against the winner of No. 1-seeded Georgetown (Ky.) and third-seeded MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. CDT. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
Miller cut to the basket from just left of the arc, took a pass from Chris Runnels and laid the ball off the right side of the glass to give the Evangels a 91-89 lead. Devonse Reed had twice given Mid-America Christian the lead in the final 2:08 with pairs of free throws, but the Tigers were able to come back on its ensuing trips with Sekou Harris providing the leveling points.
Campbellsville had enough time to get the ball up the court and had a chance at a game-tying shot, but Harris missed in traffic. A foul sent Miller to the line with 2.6 left, but he missed both attempts. A length-of-the-floor pass from the Tigers went untouched after a timeout, however, and Nick Tate iced the game with two free throws with 2.0 remaining.
“Feeling pretty good right now,” said Mid-America Christian head coach Josh Gamblin. “Now we have to go watch two really good teams play. We celebrated in the locker room, now we come back out here and lock in, take care of our bodies mentally, physically, and be up all night watching either Georgetown or MidAmerica Nazarene.”
The Evangels came flying out of the gates and shot a blistering 57.9 percent (22 of 38) in the first half that included 8 of 15 (.533) three-point attempts. A trey by Exzavia Seaton followed by a pair of long range connections by Miller and one by Jerrick Massenburge provided the majority of a 17-2 run to break a 33-33 tie and help Mid-America Christian to a 55-44 halftime lead.
As they have throughout the tournament, Campbellsville made the necessary adjustments after halftime to work its way back into the game. Harris scored nine points in an 11-0 run that trimmed a 74-61 deficit down to just two with 10:08 to play. Dii’Jon Allen-Jordan tied the game a minute later with a pair of free throws, and the teams were tied five times down the stretch.
“There are a lot of things that plagued us throughout the season that came back tonight to haunt us,” said Campbellsville head coach Keith Adkins. “Those things weren’t here during the first three games of the tournament. But you know what, we had every opportunity to fold up and be down and say enough is enough but we didn’t. We had a chance to win at the end. On a stage like this, that is about all you can do.”
Reed led five players in double figures with 30 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists for the Evangels. Miller finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, Malcolm Mann tallied 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Tate (11) also hit double digits.
Harris scored a game- and career-high 30 points and dished out five assists for Campbellsville, which finished the game 28 of 67 (.418) from the field and yielded a 46-34 rebounding margin. Allen-Jordan recorded 25 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, while Rob Robinson added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers.
Campbellsville finishes its season with a 25-11 record.
Campbellsville - Making its second appearance in national championship semifinals...Drops to 0-2 in semifinal trips (Lost in 2008)…Has not been this deep into the championship since 2008 semifinals losing to Oklahoma City, 78-64… Sekou Harris becomes third player in 2016 tournament to have 30 points or more…Team now leads championship with most 3-point field goals made (40) through four games… Dii’jon Allen-Jordan recorded back-to-back and 14th double-double on the season scoring 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Mid-America Christian – Making its first ever national championship semifinal appearance in program history (2015 – advanced to quarterfinals)…Continues season with a 27-9 record, the winningest season for the Evangels…Averaging 90.2 points per game throughout the regular season, scoring 5.9 points lower in championship run…Finished game with 12 3-point field goals (12-of-22), tying as the fourth highest 3-point field goals made on the season…Ranks 20th in the country in 3-point field goals made (8.7)…Devonse Reed leads team with 67 points throughout the championship, adding 30 tonight (24.3 points per game)…Team tied for third most in tournament with 18 assists in game.
• Two teams from the Mid-South Conference (MSC) – Campbellsville (Ky.) and Georgetown (Ky.) – are playing in the Fab Four semifinals. As a Conference, the MSC is 8-2 through quarterfinals of the 2016 national championship.
• With the Mid-South Conference sending two reps, this marks the third time in the last four years that two teams from the same conference are appearing in the semifinals – two Mid-South teams in 2013; two Golden State Athletic Conference teams in 2015.
• MidAmerica Nazarene is appearing in its second Fab Four in the last three years (2014 & 2016). They become the first team to reach the semifinals two times in a three-year stretch since Georgetown did it in 2011 & 2013.
• By Campbellsville and Georgetown holding the same mascot in the Tigers, it marks the second time in the last three years that two Fab Four teams held the same moniker. In 2014, the Lions from Vanguard (Calif.) and Emmanuel (Ga.) competed.
• Since the national championship came back to Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium in 2002 (from Tulsa), just one No. 1 seed won the red banner – Mountain State (W.Va.) in 2004. Overall since 1967, there have been seven No. 1 seeds to win the national championship.
• This year will mark a new champion for the eighth-straight year.
• Mid-America Christian is looking to add another title to the state of Oklahoma. The Sooner state already holds claim to a NAIA record 10 championships.