MidAmerica Nazarene knew William Jessup (Calif.) had the capabilities to start the second half with a spurt.
The Warriors advanced to their second round game by turning an eight-point halftime deficit into a 13-point victory.
The same pattern was taking shape on Friday evening in the second round of the NAIA Men’s Basketball Championship at Municipal Auditorium. MidAmerica saw its seven-point halftime lead disappear in less than two minutes. William Jessup scored the first nine points in the second half.
But the Pioneers showed they had a quick answer and went on an amazing run that led MidAmerica to an impressive 90-76 victory over William Jessup. The Pioneers, 27-8, will return to action 7:30 p.m. Saturday in a quarterfinal game against the winner of Friday’s late game between Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) and Lewis-Clark State (Idaho).
“This is really cool,” said MidAmerica junior Justin Randall, who finished 16 points and seven rebounds. “Last year we didn’t make it to the tournament. This is part of Pioneer tradition. It is good to be a part of it.”
William Jessup had all the momentum when it took a 39-37 lead. The run never rattled the Pioneers. MidAmerica scored 18 of the next 20 points and exploded to a 55-41 with 12 minutes, 44 seconds left.
It all started for MidAmerica with a three-pointer by junior Jonas Page that put the Pioneers back in front a 40-39. Randall followed with a basket.
“We noticed last game they really put it on in the second half,” Randall said. “We tend to come out slow sometimes in the second half. It something we got to be aware of. I think we responded OK.”
After a basket by William Jessup, the Pioneers scored the next 13 points and completely took over the game. MidAmerica maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
“The biggest thing was rebounding,” Randall said. “That is our biggest flaw. If we don’t rebound, we can’t run. Run is what we do best. We got out and ran.”
A bit of pizzazz near the end of the first half by MidAmerica sent the Pioneers into halftime with a 37-30.
After leading most of the first half, MidAmerica fell behind 20-19 and then saw its deficit grow to 25-22. The Pioneers tied the game at 25-25 and then senior Brian Simmons hit his second three-pointer of the first half to put the Warriors back up three.
MidAmerica went on an 8-0 run for a 33-28 lead and after the Warriors made two free throws, the play of the half occurred. MidAmerica senior guard Nick Syrie tossed up a perfect alley-oop pass to senior Jordan Whelan, who completed the spectacular play, jamming the ball through the nets.
Feeding of that play, the Pioneers got a stop and scored the final basket on a strong move in the paint by forward Marshawn Arnold that gave MidAmerica a seven-point lead.
If the Pioneers converted more than three of nine from the free throw line, they would have had a bigger halftime lead. MidAmerica shot 54 percent from the field and held the Warriors to 35 percent.
▪ Cumberlands (Ky.) found itself in a deep hole in the first half in a second-round game of the NAIA Division II men’s basketball tournament on Friday at Municipal Auditorium.
The Patriots, seeded sixth in the Duer Bracket, were down by as many as 18 points to No. 2 seed Talladega (Ala.).
Cumberlands, though, mounted a second-half comeback and beat the Tornadoes 82-80 on a layup by D’Lando Carter with 2.5 seconds left.
With the win, the Patriots move on to the quarterfinals and will face No. 4 seed Mid-America Christian (Okla.) Saturday.
Cumberlands trailed 50-36 at the half but put together a 18-5 run early in the second half and eventually tied the score 71-71 with just under 8 minutes left on a three-pointer by Carter, who finished with 14 points.
Temjae Singleton helped spark the early second-half run. He also made some key free throws when the lead changed hands down the stretch.
Singleton finished with a career-high 29 points, while making 14 of 16 free throws.
Jordan Washington had a huge game for Talladega with 26 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Cumberlands improved to 24-11, while Talladega finished its season 25-7.
▪ No. 4 seed Mid-America Christian (Okla.) took down No. 1 seed Biola (Calif.) 88-80. The Evangels built an early 12-point lead, turned it into a 49-30 halftime advantage and held on against the Eagles from there. Mid-America improved is 10-6 this season against teams that made the tournament.
Devonse Reed scored a game-high 27 points for Mid-America Christian, and Bryon Miller added 21.
Nick Tate also put together quite a stat line for Mid-America Christian. He had 10 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocked shots.
Dakari Archer had 22 points and four assists for Biola, which finished the season. 30-4.
Biola won the rebounding battle 47-30 but shot only 34.3 percent for the game.
▪ Top-seeded LSU Alexandria also fell on Friday, losing to No. 5 seed Carroll (Mont.) 66-60. Zach Taylor made 4 of six three-pointers and finished with 23 points for Carroll, which will play Campbellsville in the quarterfinals. Brian Sylvester had 23 points and 13 rebounds for LSU Alexandria, which at 29-3 fell one win short of a 30-win season.
▪ Top-seeded Georgetown (Ky.) fended off No. 4 seed Arizona Christian 80-78 and advanced to the quarterfinals, where the Tigers will face William Penn (Iowa). Georgetown, 30-3, led for virtually the whole game on Friday, and took its final two-point lead with 32 seconds left in the game on two free throws by Bobby Gray.
Deondre McWhorter scored a game-high 26 points points for Georgetown on 10-of-15 shooting and also pulled down 13 rebounds and had three blocked shots. Brandon Newman and Chris Sterling each scored 22 points for Arizona Christian, which finished the season 23-9.
▪ No. 3 seed William Penn (Iowa) is making a nice run in its first NAIA Tournament. The Statesmen beat No. 2 seed Columbia (Mo.) 86-68 and advanced to the quarterfinals.
William Penn dominated on the boards 54-33, which made it difficult for the Cougars to mount a comeback.
Brady Burford (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Steven Roundtree (13 points, 12 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the Statesmen, who improved to 29-6.
Nic Reynolds led Columbia with 19 points.
The Cougars finished the season 29-6.
▪ Elliott Young made 4 of 7 three pointers on way to 22 points as sixth-seeded Campbellsville (Ky.) beat No. 7 seed Dillard (La.) 81-73.
It was a tale of three-pointers as Campbellsville made 10 of 32 shots from beyond the arc, while Dillard managed 4 of 24 three pointers.
Demetric Austin scored a game-high 23 points for Dillard. He made 1 of six three-pointers.