The first 10 minutes of Benedictine’s first-round game at the Buffalo Funds NAIA National Championship were everything the Ravens could’ve dreamed of.
Benedictine came out hot, California-based The Master’s University did not, and the biggest first-round upset looked plausible.
Benedictine’s dream ended there. The Master’s rolled to a 85-56 victory at Municipal Auditorium, ending Benedictine’s national title hopes on the night the Ravens honored their 1967 national championship team.
The seventh-seeded Ravens (21-11) led by as many as 12 points in the first half before The Master’s, a No. 2 seed, found its stride. The Mustangs finished the first half on a 23-8 spurt, and put the game away with a decisive 27-8 run after Benedictine tied the game at 39-39.
“They were able to just knock down shots and play that California ball — run and gun,” Benedictine senior Andre Yates said. “Three is worth more than two, and definitely worth more when we can’t hit two or one. All respect to them, and I definitely wish them luck in the tournament.”
Reid Shackelford of The Master’s hit 6 of his team’s 11 three-pointers, including three in a row from Steph Curry-esque distances.
“We played a zone to try to slow them down, and Shackelford, he just kept backing up,” Benedictine coach Ryan Moody said. “That last one he hit was at least 6, 7, 8 feet behind the three-point line, and how far do you extend? We were struggling to keep them in front, and that was opening up the three-point line.”
The Mustangs also had a size advantage, particularly with 6-10 freshman Tim Soares, who spent much of the game blocking and altering shots.
“We let our offense affect our defense today,” Moody said. “We looked a little tired, and we have for a couple weeks to be honest with out. I don’t know if we hit the wall, and sometimes that happens. I hope our seniors don’t remember this snapshot specifically for this year, because we got a lot done.”
Yates scored a game-high 27 points in his final game with Benedictine. Fellow senior Connor Fleming finished with 11.
“People thought we wouldn’t get here. I’m just happy with all six seniors,” Yates said. “We’re one of the winningest classes in program history, and I’m happy for the opportunity.”
Pikeville (Ky.) 79, Grand View (Iowa) 62: Pikeville shot 50 percent from the floor and cruised to a first-round win. Clint Nwosuh led Pikeville with 22 points. Kerry Green scored 17 for Grand View.
Westmont (Calif.) 74, William Carey (Miss.) 60: Westmont overcame a three-point halftime deficit to run away from William Carey. Westmont’s Sean Harmon led all scorers with 22 points. William Carey got 17 points from Ashton Woodson
LSU Alexandria 104, Science & Arts (Okla.) 80: LSU Alexandria, the top seed in the Naismith Bracket, rolled past Science & Arts. Four Generals scored in double figures. Brian Sylvester and Brandon Moss each finished with 18 points. Imani Edwards scored 20 points for Science & Arts.
Columbia (Mo.) College 71, Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho) 59: Columbia College overcame a lackluster first half and an eight-point deficit to rally for the win. The Cougars, the second seed in the Naismith Bracket were led by Nic Reynolds’ 26 points and will play Pikeville (Ky.) Friday in the second round.
Texas Wesleyan 74, University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) 68: Texas Wesleyan had no trouble in its opener. The Rams got 19 points from Dion Rogers in the win. Chance Morton scored 22 for Cumberlands.
Dalton State (Ga.) 84, Harris-Stowe State (Mo.) 82: Dalton State, the top seed, in the Liston Bracket survived a first-round scare. Carnilious Simmons led the Roadrunners with 23 points. St. Louis-based Harris-Stowe got 16 points from Jalen Fletcher.