Second Half Surge Sends Graceland Into Quarterfinals, 67-59

Second Half Surge Sends Graceland Into Quarterfinals, 67-59

Story By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator Photos courtesy of Referee Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) No. 5-seeded Graceland (Iowa) kept its championship dreams alive in its first-ever trip to the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship with a 67-59 win over No. 8-seeded Langston (Okla.), Friday evening inside Municipal Auditorium. The Yellowjackets will play Montana Western, a 75-72 winner over Campbellsville (Ky.), on Saturday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m. CDT

NOTES

  • Graceland improved its record to 26-10
  • Langston concluded its season with a record of 21-12
  • Higher seeds in the tournament improved to 12-10, while 18 of the first 22 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer

STANDOUT PERFORMERS

  • LT Davis led all scorers by matching a season-high with 29 points on 6 of 10 shooting from three-point range for Graceland
  • Will Nelson added a double-double with 13 points and a game-best 13 rebounds for the Yellowjackets
  • Kevin Booze hit 3 of 4 three-point shots to lead Langston with 13 points
  • Diamante Langston hit 9 of 10 free throws to tally 11 points for the Lions, while Brandon Eboigbodin pulled down 11 rebounds

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Offense was at a premium in the first half as Graceland led 26-24 at the half after trailing 9-2 almost four minutes into the game
  • Davis hit the first two of his six three-point shots to spark a 12-0 run that he finished off with a drive to the basket
  • Langston grabbed a three-point lead after two free throws by Diamante Langston at the 14:05 mark of the second half, but went over 10 minutes between field goals as Graceland took a 48-38 lead with 5:21 remaining
  • Full court pressure sparked a 12-1 run for the Lions to close within three with 1:19 to play, but the Yellowjackets converted seven late free throws to earn the win

HOW THEY SAW IT

  • Graceland head coach Craig Doty – “Langston is the toughest defensive team we have seen this season. They deny, they take charges, they close out, and they made our offense very inconsistent tonight. LT (Davis) was huge. He has been doing this for a long time. He is used to the spotlight and he showed up big with 29 points which included big-time plays down the stretch. We again rebounded and defended at a high level with a 48-35 rebounding advantage while holding our opponent to .316 from the field. Big time effort from our guys.”
  • Langston head coach Stan Holt – “I’m proud of our guys, proud of their effort. They didn’t give up in those last few minutes and played extremely hard. I’m sad for our five seniors right now because their college careers are over, but extremely proud of how hard they competed, and I enjoyed coaching them a tremendous amount.”

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

  • Graceland dominated the game on the glass, posting a 48-35 advantage that included 13 on the offensive end leading to 14 second-chance points
  • Half of Langston’s 18 field goals came from three-point range and 33 of its 57 total attempts were from beyond the arc, where the team shot 27.3 percent

GAME NOTES:
Graceland
The Yellowjackets are a first-time qualifier in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship and won the program’s debut game Thursday night, defeating defending national champion Texas Wesleyan, 70-61...Graceland is one of four Heart of America Athletic Conference teams in this season's tournament field...Heart teams are 4-2 in the national championship thus far...Graceland is 6-4 against tournament qualifiers this season... Graceland head coach Craig Doty has led the Yellowjackets to back-to-back 20-plus win seasons after winning two NJCAA Division III national titles and a third national title game appearance at Rock Valley College (Ill.)...Graceland has won its last eight games, nine of its last 10 and are 16-2 since Jan. 17.

Langston
Langston is making its sixth appearance at the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, including the past three-straight seasons...The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals in 2017 as a No. 6 seed, defeating Biola (Calif.) and Dillard (La.) before losing to William Penn (Iowa)...Langston is 3-6 all-time at the national championship, including a 1-1 record in second round games...The Lions are one of four Red River Athletic Conference teams in the tournament, with all four teams advancing to the second round (the only conference to do so)...Red River teams are 6-1 thus far in the tournament...Coming into the game against Graceland, the Lions had won five of their last six games.