Four players scored in double figures for Indiana Wesleyan, led by All-American Antonio Murrell with a game-high 23 points. The senior guard went 9-of-12 from the field and also tied for the team lead with six rebounds. Jon Moon scored all 15 of his points from the three-point line and increases his tournament total to eight three-pointers in two games. Landon Adler and Zach Coverstone added 14 points each.
Indiana Wesleyan never trailed against Evergreen State as they opened up a 6-0 lead. With the lead at two (10-8), the Wildcats outscored the Geoducks 16-5 to push the lead to double digits late in the first half. Moon sparked the run with a pair of three-pointers and Indiana Wesleyan shot 70% from beyond the arc in the first half.
Evergreen State made a charge and managed to cut the lead to seven (59-52) but six straight points opened the game up once again for Indiana Wesleyan and they went on to record the 22-point win.
Indiana Wesleyan shot 62% for the game, 50% from the three-point line. They held Nathan Menefee, the nation's second leading scorer, to 21 points. The junior totaled 69 points in two games at the tournament. Nick Moore closed out his career at Evergreen State with 19 points and six rebounds. The Geoducks end the season with a 20-12 record.
Making its second tournament appearance, Indiana Wesleyan (29-6) advances to the Elite Eight for the second time. They will either the University of Sioux Falls or College of the Ozarks at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. The 32-team, single elimination tournament concludes March 17, 2009.
The Bobcats avenged their loss of two years ago to the Wildcats in the 2007 National Championship game as IWU earned the title to cap off a 38-0 season.
Indiana Wesleyan (24-10) was able to neutralize Ozarks' leading scorer, senior guard Kayli Combs, to just nine points on 3-of-15 shooting. But the Ozarks' second leading scorer in Lindsy Murray, and main post threat, tallied a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
IWU sophomore forward Elaine Hessel was nearly able to match Murray with 23 points as she was 9-of-12 from the floor. Murray and Hessel were the only players to score double figures.
The Indiana Wesleyan defense was able to harass Ozarks much of the game, including the first six minutes as Ozarks was held scoreless. Before the first Ozarks score, a 3-pointer to tie the game with 13:52 left in the half, Ozarks had missed their first five field goals and committed seven turnovers.
Once the Bobcats finally scored they were able to score on four of five possessions in the next 2:19 to capture a 10-7 lead.
The first half featured five ties and five lead changes with no team able to earn a lead greater than four until the very end of the half. The score was tied 23-23 when the Bobcats were able to stretch a lead.
Ozarks (28-5) ended the opening period on a 10-1 run to take the lead and momentum into half. C of O led 33-24 at the break.
Ozarks quickly gained their first double digit lead of the day 23 seconds into the second half. But Indiana Wesleyan responded to close the gap to five points at 35-30 less than two minutes later as three different Wildcats scored.
On different occasions Indiana Wesleyan trimmed the deficit to four points, the latest coming at 39-35 with 11:50 to play.
The Bobcats reeled off six unanswered points to recapture their double figure lead at 45-35. Indiana Wesleyan responded once again with four straight points to bring the game within six as 8:10 remained.
In a second half of runs, Ozarks volleyed with six consecutive points to gain their largest lead of the contestat 51-39 and 5:18 on the clock. Ozarks maintained a 12 point advantage at 54-42 with 3:36 remaining, but Indiana Wesleyan attempted one last comeback.
A basket and a foul for freshman guard Rachel Steinbarger brought the deficit back to single digits. Following a defensive rebound by Steinbarger, Hessel scored in the paint for a 54-47 game. Another IWU defensive stop followed by Hessel hitting on 1-of-2 free throws closed the gap to 54-48 as 1:20 was left on the clock.
Indiana Wesleyan was forced to foul but Ozarks was able to connect on 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to ice the game and advance to the Elite Eight.
The Wildcats defense kept Indiana Wesleyan close throughout as Ozarks shot 41.7-percent (20 of 48) and 3-of-15 (20.0-percent) from long range. The Bobcats turned the ball over 21 times and the Wildcats had 12 steals.
But Indiana Wesleyan was unable to capitalize on their defensive pressure as IWU was held to 35.2-percent (19 of 54) and hit on just 10-of-17 (58.8-percent) from the charity stripe. Ozarks won the battle on the boards by a 43-30 margin.
Indiana Wesleyan's season comes to a close at 24-10 with the seventh consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championship.
#6 Indiana Wesleyan held off Trinity Christian 67-61 in the first round of the 2009 NAIA D-II Men's Basketball National Championship. The 18th-annual event is being held at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of the College of the Ozarks (Mo.).
Trinity Christian opened the game with a 12-5 run but the Wildcats, behind 57% shooting in the first half, tied the game at 18. Leading by two (23-21), Indiana Wesleyan limited the Trolls to just one basket over the final five minutes to take a 30-23 lead at intermission. Trinity struggled from the field, shooting just 17% from beyond the arc.
Indiana Wesleyan began the second half on an 8-2 run and held its largest lead, 38-25. The Trolls came storming back to tie the game at 49 after a basket by Alex Rusticus with over eight minutes to go. A Will Bruinsma three-pointer put Trinity Christian up by one (59-58) but the Wildcats clamped down defensively and closed the game with a 9-2 run to earn the win. Indiana Wesleyan limited Trinity Christian to just one basket over the final three minutes.
The Wildcats registered three players in double figures, led by Antonio Murrell with 18. Jon Moon and Zach Coverstone added 15 and 12 points, respectively. Murrell and Moon combined for six three-pointers. Indiana Wesleyan shot 55% for the game.
Trinity Christian was led in scoring by Ross Stuursma with 18 points on 8-of-10 from the field. Kurt Gruppen, the Chicagoland Collegiate Conference player-of-the-year, netted 17 points while Alex Rusticus scored eight and pulled down 12 rebounds. After shooting just 37% in the first half, the Trolls made 55% of their field goal attempts in the second half. They shot 46% for the game. Trinity Christian, making its second appearance at the national tournament, ends the season at 23-9.
Indiana Wesleyan improves to 28-6 overall and will play either #11 Bluefield (Va.) or Evergreen State (Wash.) on Friday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m. The 32-team, single elimination tournament concludes March 17, 2009.
The Wildcats trailed 59-58 with under three minutes to play. Senior forward Landon Adler hit bucket down low and was fouled with 2:05 on the clock for a three-point play to give IWU the 61-59 advantage.
Both teams missed shots in their next possession. Trinity Christian looked to tie or take the lead but senior guard Antonio Murrell stripped the ball lose and scored on a fast break give-and-go with Adler to increase the Wildcat lead to two possessions at 63-59 and 50 seconds to go.
The Trolls missed a 3-point attempt and grabbed the offense rebound, but missed again as the Wildcats grabbed the rebound. IWU junior guard Spencer Harris was fouled with 30 seconds to play and iced the game with two free throws.
The 2006-07 National Champions are a No. 5-seed in this year's tournament and will square off with No. 4-seed Mount Marty (S.D.) College at 8:30 a.m. CT/9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 12.
Mount Marty is out of Yankton, South Dakota and is currently 24-8 on the season. The Lancers finished 14-4 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference for a third place finish. Mount Marty lost in the GPAC semifinals to unbeaten Morningside (Iowa) College.
Like the Mid-Central College Conference, the GPAC earned four bids to the national tournament. The GPAC has won seven of the last eight national titles and had won six straight before the Wildcats clinched the 2007 championship.
The only common opponent between the schools is Morningside. Indiana Wesleyan lost a 62-54 decision to the No. 1-ranked team while Mount Marty lost 73-50 and 69-62.
The Lancers enter national tournament play winners of 10 of their last 11 contests and are 13-3 since the turn of the calendar year. Six of their eight losses this season have come to teams in the NAIA Division II National Championship while the other two have come against NCAA Division I South Dakota State University and Vanguard (Calif.) University, ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division I.
Mount Marty made a steady climb in the national poll this season. MMC was not ranked in the preseason coaches' poll and did not crack the top-25 until the third poll on January 5. Mount Marty progressed up the rankings until reaching their season high of No. 14 in the final poll on March 4.
Mount Marty boasts four players in double figure scoring this season, led by their backcourt of junior guard Michelle Amundson with 14.8 points and senior guard Katelynn Kunz with 14.2 points. Senior center Amber Marsden adds 13.2 points and sophomore guard Lacey Powell chips in with 11.6 points.
Marsden pulls down a team-best 7.7 rebounds per game and Kunz adds 5.2 caroms. Amundson, in addition to being the Lancers' leading scorer, dishes out 4.2 assist per contest.
No player on Mount Marty is shooting over 50.0-percent from the floor as they shoot 44.3-percent from the field as a team. Despite the lack of a high-percentage shooter, Mount Marty is seventh in NAIA Division II in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage (37.5-percent), 12th in Field Goal Percentage and 24th in Scoring per Game (72.6 points).
Oklahoma Wesleyan University, the nation’s top-ranked team for the last four weeks, earns the No. 1 seed. The Eagles stand 30-2 and take on Fisher (Mass.) College, winners of the Sunrise Conference Tournament, at 7:30 p.m. CST on Thursday (March 12). OWU has won 13 straight games and comes into its second ever Championship with a 1-1 record.
Defending national champion and No. 7 seed, Oregon Tech opens up play with a 9:45 p.m. game against Iowa Wesleyan on Wednesday. Host school, Ozarks, will face No. 14 Aquinas (Mich.) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
Oregon Tech owns the most wins (25) amongst this year’s participants and is making its 11th overall appearance. Bethel (Ind.) is right behind with 22 victories in this, its eighth Championship appearance. Ozarks stand 18-11 overall in 12 previous tournaments. Overall, nine programs are seeking win No. 1 in this year’s Championship. Conversely, 15 teams have at least five years of Championship appearance.
In all, there are 31 games spanning seven days. The first three days pack in eight games each day starting at 8:30 a.m. For ticket information, call 417-335-6242.
The first 30 games of the Championships will be video-streamed live on the Internet, while the National Championship Game on March 17 at 8:50 p.m. CST will air live nationwide on CBS College Sports Television with Jason Knapp calling the action and Sean Farnham providing color analysis.
tournament will start with the first round games on
Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12 and will
end with the championship game on Tuesday, March 17
at 7 p.m.
JumpTV Inc. is the exclusive provider of live video and audio-streaming at the NAIA National Championship. JumpTV will stream the first 30 games of the championships. These events can be viewed by going to www.watchnaia.com. The National Championship Game will air live nationwide on CBS College Sports.
In 2008 Northwestern (Iowa) used a strong second half to earn a hard fought 82-75 victory over the College of the Ozarks (Mo.) to capture its second title.
Three schools have captured back-to-back titles in Division II history. Western Oregon (1995 and 1996), Hastings (Neb.) (2002 and 2003) and Morningside (Iowa) (2004 and 2005) all defended their title after winning their first championship.
has captured the most championships with three, while
Morningside, Northern State (S.D.), Northwestern
(Iowa) and Western Oregon all won two titles.
The schools from Great Plains Athletic Conference have captured seven of the last eight national championships. Indiana Wesleyan won the title in 2007 breaking the streak of six straight by GPAC schools.
The 18th Annual NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship will be held March 11-17 in Point Lookout, Missouri. The College of the Ozarks is the host site.
Indiana Wesleyan will enter the national tournament with a 27-6 record and co-champions of the Mid-Central College Conference regular season. IWU lost 74-70 in the MCC Tournament championship to then No. 3-ranked Bethel (Ind.) College.
The 32-team field consists of 21 automatic qualifiers, 10 at-large selections plus a spot for the host school.
The NAIA released its final Top-25 Coaches' Poll in conjunction with the list of national tournament qualifiers, which determined the at-large bids. Indiana Wesleyan held firm in the last poll at No. 6 to earn the first at-large selection.
Indiana Wesleyan will make it second ever appearance at the national tournament and second in three seasons. The Wildcats advanced to the Elite Eight in 2006-07 before falling to eventual national champion MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) University.
The Wildcats will be joined at the national tournament by two other MCC programs. Bethel (Ind.) College earned the conference's automatic bid by winning the MCC Tournament and Grace (Ind.) College received the ninth of 10 at-large berths.
The NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship will release the official bracket on Thursday.