Georgetown Holds Off MidAmerica Nazarene, 90-83

Georgetown Holds Off MidAmerica Nazarene, 90-83

Story by NAIA Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) No. 1 seed Georgetown (Ky.) advanced to the championship game of the 2016 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship with a 90-83 win over No. 3-seed MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) in the semifinal round on Monday evening.

Georgetown (32-3) will return to the national championship game for the second time since 2013 and face title-game newcomer No. 4 Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN3.

In similar fashion to its quarterfinal round win over William Penn (Iowa), Georgetown needed a strong second-half performance after being matched by its Heart of America Athletic Conference foe in the first half. After being tied at the half on Saturday, the Tigers trailed 48-43 on Monday night after the Pioneers shot 58.1 percent (18 of 31) in the first half.

Following the script from Saturday’s win, Georgetown asserted itself immediately to start the second half. After allowing an early basket by the Pioneers’ Nick Syrie, the Tigers scored 10-straight points over just 1:27 for a 53-50 lead. Syrie answered that spurt, only to see Georgetown answer with a 12-2 stretch over 4:45 to stretch the gap to 65-54.

Georgetown pushed its lead to as much as 14 in the second half and held an 83-70 lead with 3:20 to play before MNU made its final charge. The Pioneers tallied a quick seven points to cut the deficit to six before closing to within three after a transition bucket by Justin Randall and jumper in the lane by Jonas Page.

That was as close as the Pioneers would come as Noah Cottrill hit two free throws with :27 seconds to play and MNU was unable to convert any of its final three field goal attempts. Tony Kimbro and Deondre McWhorter put the game away with a free throw apiece in the final moments.

“We are excited to be back in the finals,” said Georgetown head coach Chris Briggs. “We’ve got one guy who has been through this before. The guys have to work hard, prepare and focus.”

McWhorter finished with game-high totals of 20 points and 14 rebounds, making 10 of 12 free throws along the way. Cottrill chipped in with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Kimbro and Darion Burns each finished with 13 points and combined for 13 rebounds.

“First of all we can’t seem to get over this game,” said MNU head coach Rocky Lamar. “It’s the third time we’ve been here and have had great kids every time. You can’t lose focus against a team like Georgetown for two minutes and we lost focus for about seven minutes and the game was over and you can’t do that against great teams. I thought we did a great job trying to get back in it.”

Page led five MNU players in double figures with 15 points, while Jordan Whelan tallied 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Three other players finished with 12 points: Justin Randall, Justin Jamison and Nick Syrie, the latter also tallying eight rebounds and eight assists.

MidAmerica Nazarene finishes its season with a 28-9 record.

Game Notes
Georgetown - Improves to 6-8 record in its 14th championship semifinal appearance…Now on an 11-game win streak overall…Last lost to Cumberlands (Ky.) on Feb. 6 (86-83)…Leads current championship teams in total scoring (93.7)…Posted a tournament-high 30 made free-throws tonight against MidAmerica Nazarene…Ranked first in blocks per game and field goal percentage throughout the season… Fifth in blocks in tournament (15) and sixth in field goal percentage (47 percent)…Three players averaging double-digits in scoring in four games…Noah Cottrill averaged 17.9 points during the regular season and is now averaging 25.3 points, which leads the team with 94 total points in four championship games.

MidAmerica Nazarene – Making its third semifinal appearance, all coming since 2009…Drops to 0-3 in the Fab Four…Eight players have recorded double-digit scoring outputs in the tournament…Jonas Page led team with 72 total points, averaging 19 points per game…Nick Syrie ranked first in total assists throughout the season (290), recording 33 during the tournament to finish his four-year career with 1,302 points and 953 assists…He is part of a team to tally a tournament-leading 56 total assists and 18.7 per game…Team ranked second in blocks per game on the season (4.8) and during the tournament (6.3)…Justin Randall accounts for 10 of the team’s 19 blocks in the tournament and 71 on the season, ranking him fifth in the NAIA.

General Notes
• Two teams from the Mid-South Conference (MSC) – Campbellsville (Ky.) and Georgetown (Ky.) – played in the Fab Four semifinals. As a Conference, the MSC now moves to 9-3 through the semifinals 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.
• Georgetown advances to sixth all-time National Championship game – first since 2013.
• The Tigers won championships in 2013 & 1998.
• The Tigers own three NAIA championship all-time records for most wins (65), most appearances (35) and consecutive appearances (25).