Top 75 NAIA Tournament moments

The Star and Randy Covitz, in conjunction with the NAIA, will celebrate the 75th year of the Division I Men's Basketball Tournament by selecting the top 75 moments in NAIA history.

No. 1

1937: Emil Liston, Dr. James Naismith and Frank Cramer saw their dream become a reality when the nation’s first National Collegiate Basketball Tournament was played at Municipal Auditorium. Central Missouri State Teachers College, coached by Earl Keth, beat Morningside (Iowa) 35-24 for the first national championship. The 75th annual event is the longest continuous national college basketball tournament in the country.

No. 2

1948: Clarence Walker, a reserve guard for head coach John Wooden’s Indiana State Sycamores, broke the color barrier in collegiate basketball by becoming the first African-American to participate in a college basketball national championship at any level in a game against St. Francis (Pa.).

No. 3

1952-53: At the 1952 tournament, the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball voted to allow historically African-American schools an automatic qualifier, and at the 1953 tournament, these schools began participating.

No. 4

1957: Tennessee A beat Southeastern Oklahoma 92-73 for its first NAIA championship and became the first historically African American school to win a national title in the United States.

No. 5

1959: Tennessee A, led by sweet-shooting left-hander Dick Barnett and fellow guard Johnny Barnhill, won its third straight NAIA National Championship, becoming the first school to three-peat in American college basketball history. Barnett, who could go on to a successful NBA career with the New York Knicks, was selected the tournament's MVP for the second straight season.

No. 6

1972: Kentucky State’s Travis “Machine Gun” Grant scored 60 points against Minot State (N.D.), setting a single-game scoring record that still stands, and the Thorobreds went on to win their third straight title and became the second NAIA team to three-peat.

No. 7

1964: Hometown Rockhurst College, in front of 10,783 at Municipal Auditorium, won the NAIA title with a 66-56 win over defending champion Pan American (Texas), which featured two-time tournament MVP Lucious Jackson. But the most memorable game was a 76-74 win over Indiana Central in the second round as Dick Hennier hit a buzzer beater and landed out of bounds after the shot. Interest in Rockhurst’s run to the title created traffic jams throughout downtown Kansas City, and an unofficial policy was adopted to avoid scheduling Rockhurst during rush hour.

No. 8

1945: Pepperdine (Calif.) star Nick Buzolich stopped shooting in the second half of a tournament game when he was about to break the all-tournament scoring record. Buzolich told his coach, Al Duer, that he wouldn’t break the scoring record out of respect for his former teammate, Pete Fogo, who was serving in World War II in France and earned a Purple Heart.

No. 9

1999: Top-seeded Life (Ga.) overcame a 26-point second-half deficit and defeated Mobile (Ala.) 63-60 with a game-winning buzzer-beater in the title game in Tulsa, Okla. The win gave Life back-to-back national championships.

No. 10

1956: The governor of Louisiana threatened to pull McNeese State (La.) from the tournament if historically black schools were allowed to participate. Delta State (Miss.) had already withdrawn, but McNeese State went against the governor’s wishes and defeated historically black college Texas Southern 60-55 for the national championship.

No. 11

1954: Clarence “Bevo” Francis from Rio Grande (Ohio), college basketball’s biggest breakout star, came to Municipal Auditorium, creating a frenzy for tickets from fans wanting to see the man who once scored 113 points in a college game, still the all-time record. After selling out the game programs an hour before tipoff, officials allowed standing-room-only tickets to be sold and still turned away a huge crowd. Francis was hampered by a sore ankle, and his team was eliminated in the second round.

No. 12

2007: After three buzzer-beaters and four overtimes, Concordia (Calif.) outlasted top-seeded Robert Morris (Ill.), 124-119 in a semifinal as the Municipal Auditorium crowd gave both teams a rousing, standing ovation after the second-longest game in tournament history. The exhausted Eagles lost in the championship game the next night to Oklahoma City.

No. 13

1985: Ron Morse, averaging only 3.6 points per game for the season, knocked down a 15-foot shot at the buzzer that gave Fort Hays State an 82-80 victory in overtime over Wayland Baptist (Texas). Morse, the unlikely hero, was the son of Fort Hays State head coach Bill Morse, whose Tigers won their second straight title.

No. 14

1987: As the NAIA Tournament celebrated its 50th anniversary, ESPN televised the event from Kemper Arena for the first time, with Dick Vitale serving as the color commentator for both semifinals as well as the national championship game, in which Washburn (Kan.) University of Topeka beat West Virginia State 79-77.

No. 15

1978: It took Grand Canyon (Ariz.) a tournament-record five overtimes to defeat Central State (Ohio) 88-82 in the quarterfinals. Grand Canyon would go on to win the national championship with a 79-75 win over Kearney State (Neb.).

No. 16

1948: The University of Louisville won the championship game with an 82-70 win over Indiana State, coached by John Wooden. It would end up as the only loss in a national championship game at any level for Wooden, who returned to Municipal Auditorium in 1964 and led UCLA to his first of 10 NCAA titles. Louisville later became the only program to win NAIA, NIT and NCAA Division I national championships.

No. 17

1953: Due to injuries, foul trouble and the absences of pro baseball players Jerry Lumpe and Norm Siebern, who had reported to spring training, Southwest Missouri State beat Indiana State 84-78 in the semifinals despite having only four players for the final minutes. Bob Vanatta’s Bears introduced the four-corner offense in the victory and went on to beat Hamline (Minn.) 79-71 for their second straight championship.

No. 18

1976: One night after Coppin (Md.) State’s 6-foot-11 Joe Pace hit a 25-foot buzzer-beater that beat Marymount (Kan.) in the semifinals, he scored 43 points with 12 rebounds and six blocked shots despite playing on a badly sprained ankle in the 96-91 victory over Henderson (Ark.) State in the title game. Pace, the tournament’s MVP, was profiled in a Sports Illustrated feature and played in the NBA.

No. 19

1963: Tournament Most Valuable Player Lucious Jackson led Pan American to an improbable 72-63 national championship victory over Western Carolina (N.C.). The 6-foot-9 Jackson and the Broncos pulled off a monumental upset in the semifinals with a stunning 90-83 win over Grambling (La.), which was led by future Hall of Famer Willis Reed, the tournament’s leading scorer. Jackson scored 132 points and grabbed 93 rebounds in five tournament games and would later play on an Olympic and NBA champion.

No. 20

2006: Texas Wesleyan’s Ben Hunt hit a running 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded for a 67-65 win over Oklahoma City for the national championship. Hunt, a senior guard from Australia, finished with a career-best 34 points — including seven of 11 from three-point range — eight rebounds and three assists and averaged 20.6 points for the tournament. But his teammate, Evan Patterson, was selected the tournament MVP for his work on the boards and holding Oklahoma City’s Lorenzo Gordon to just 10 points, 14 below his season average.

No. 21

1967: St. Benedict’s (Kan.) won the 30th NAIA National Championship by defeating Oklahoma Baptist, 71-65. St. Benedict’s — now Benedictine College of Atchison, Kan. — had to overcome Al Tucker’s 47-point effort as it countered with its own star in Darryl Jones. Jones led all players in the tournament with 62 rebounds and a 12.4 average.

No. 22

1990: Phil Hutcheson of David Lipscomb (Tenn.) became the top scorer in collegiate basketball history on March 16 with a first-half, eight-foot hook shot in a quarterfinal against Pfeiffer (N.C.). Hutcheson surpassed the scoring record of 4,045 career points, previously held by Kentucky State’s Travis Grant. The game was stopped and Hutcheson, who would end up with 4,106 career points, was presented with the game ball. His record stood until 1994 when John Pierce, also of David Lipscomb, broke it on the way to 4,230 career points.

No. 23

1947: Marshall’s fast-break style brought the Municipal Auditorium crowd to its feet and drew big interest in the tournament as the Thundering Herd became the first team to score 100 points in a tournament game when it defeated River Falls (Wis.), 113-80 in a first-round game. Marshall would eventually win the school’s first men’s basketball national title.

No. 24

1986: Southeastern Oklahoma’s Dennis Rodman poured in 46 points and pulled down 32 rebounds — tying a tournament single-game record — in a 75-74 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.) in the third-place game. Rodman went on to win six NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls and later was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

No. 25

1966: Oklahoma Baptist stormed to the championship with an 88-59 victory over Georgia Southern as 6-foot-8 Al Tucker scored 41 points with 17 rebounds in the title game. Tucker, a future first-round draft pick in the NBA, finished the tournament with 182 points, second most in a single tournament, and was the unanimous Most Valuable Player selection.

No. 26

1939: Dr. James Naismith, founder of the game of basketball and the NAIA Tournament, died. In his will, he designated that the Maude Naismith Trophy, which he personally designed, would be presented to the national champion of what became the NAIA National Championship.

No. 27

1957: Southeastern Oklahoma’s Jim Spivey scored 43 points in a 92-73 loss to Tennessee A in the championship game. Spivey, the tournament MVP, scored 53 points in the semifinals against Eastern Illinois afterrattling off 46 points in the quarterfinals against Youngstown (Ohio). Spivey ended his four-year tournament career with 386 points, which ranks fourth-most in history.

No. 28

2011: Unseeded Pikeville (Ky.) defeated the defending champion, the defending runner-up and the tournament’s No. 1 seed on its way to an improbable title. After defeating No. 1 seed Robert Morris (Ill.) in the quarterfinals, the Bears came back from 15 points down in the second half of the semifinals and won it all in an overtime game, 83-76, against MountainState (W.Va.). Mop-haired Trevor Setty was named Tournament MVP after going for 32 points and 17 rebounds in the title game.

No. 29

1964: Richard M. Nixon, who later became the 37th President of the United States, was given the NAIA’s Outstanding Alumnus Award at the Tipoff Banquet in Kansas City. Nixon played football at Whittier (Calif.) of the NAIA and received a degree from the school in 1934.

No. 30

1962: Future NBA star Zelmo Beaty dominated the boards, pulling down 96 rebounds in five games — still a tournament record — as second-seeded Prairie View A won the tournament with a 62-53 win over top-seeded Westminster (Pa.).

No. 31

1950: Indiana State defeated East Central (Okla.), 61-47, in the title game of the NAIB National Championship. Indiana State’s Clarence Walker played on the championship team two years after becoming the first African American player to compete in the national tournament.

No. 32

1996: Georgetown (Ky.) made an emotional run to the 1996 championship game in honor of its dying coach, Jim Reid, who was battling cancer. Happy Osborne coached in the interim and later became head coach. Reid died less than a month after the tournament. The Tigers lost 86-80 to Oklahoma City in the title game.

No. 33

1994: In a decision NAIA executives would regret, they moved the national office, along with the men’s basketball tournament, to Tulsa, Okla., where it had an unsuccessful eight-year run. Realizing its mistake, the NAIA returned to Kansas City for the 2002 tournament and has been playing at Municipal Auditorium ever since.

No. 34

2008: Oklahoma City defeated Mountain State (W.Va.) 75-72 and not only repeated as national champion but won its sixth championship overall — twice as many as any school in thetournament’s first 75 years. Three other schools have claimed three national championships: Tennessee A, Kentucky State and Life (Ga.).

No. 35

2003: Dillard (La.), which entered the tournament with a losing record, upset No. 1 seed Houston Baptist 79-76. Despite sinking the game-winning basket, Dillard’s Eric Bell called teammate Jamaal Jones the real hero. Jones, who had been called into military duty in early March and was not with the team, was expected to be sent to Iraq at any moment. "He called when we were in the locker room," Bell told The Kansas City Star. "He's a big part of us. He's our heart.”

No. 36

1977: The 40th Annual NAIA National Basketball Tournament was televised for the first time as College Sports Inc. of Houston, Texas, carried select tournament games from Kemper Arena.

No. 37

1951: Hamline (Minn.), the school that produced future NBA star Vern Mikkelsen, became the first school to win three NAIA championships as Lloyd Thorgaard led the Pipers to a 69-61 win over Millikin (Ill.) in the title game.

No. 38

2007: Kameron Gray picked up the first of two tournament MVP awards as Oklahoma City shook off the disappointment of losing the 2006 title game to Texas Wesleyan on a buzzer beater and defeated Concordia (Calif.) 79-71 for the fifth national championship in school history. A year later, Gray would become the first player to win back-to-back tournament MVP awards since Kentucky State’s Travis Grant in 1971 and 1972.

No. 39

2002: Tiny Barat (Ill.) College’s only appearance in the NAIA Tournament ended when Science Arts of Oklahoma’s Haydin Herrin sent a semifinal into overtime and made consecutive three-pointers in the extra period, leading the Drovers a 111-106 victory. It was the final basketball game ever played by Barat, which was closing its doors at the end of the school year and would be purchased by DePaul University. The unseeded Bulldogs’ run to the semifinals was highlighted by a 96-87 win over second-seeded Union (Tenn.) in the second round. Science Arts went on to win the championship with a 96-79 victory over Oklahoma Baptist in an all-Sooner Athletic Conference final.

No. 40

1984: Terry Porter led Wisconsin-Stevens Point to the championship game, falling in overtime to Fort Hays State (Kan.), 48-46. Porter claimed MVP honors by scoringa tournament-leading 125 points in five games and went on to become an NBA All-Star and NBA head coach.

No. 41

1939: San Diego State’s Milky Phelps, the tournament’s first bona fide star, became the first college basketball player to deploy a one-handed jump shot and led the Aztecs to the championship game, which they lost 32-31 to Southwestern (Kan.). After two runner-up finishes, Phelps earned MVP honors when he led the Aztecs to the 1941 title with a 36-34 win over Murray State (Ky.). Soon after, Phelps was killed in World War II.

No. 42

1946: Phog Allen of the University of Kansas was allowed to hold an exhibition game with 12-foot baskets prior to the NAIA title game. It was thought to be the first and only game with 12-foot baskets at the collegiate level.

No. 43

2010: Oklahoma Baptist defeated Azusa Pacific (Calif.), 84-83, for the NAIA championship in a game that took an extra minute for the referees to confirm. Trailing by one in the final seconds, Azusa Pacific's Dominique Johnson missed a shot, but teammate Marshall Johnson put back the rebound as the red light came on behind thebasket. The shot was waved off as officials determined that the ball was still in Johnson’s hands as the buzzer went off – about .3 of a second shy of winning the national title.

No. 44

1988: Rodney Johns' 19-foot jumper with 3 seconds left capped a career-high 41-point night and gave 11th-seeded Grand Canyon (Ariz.) an 88-86 victory over Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) in overtime of the NAIA championship game. Johns averaged 30.2 points for the tournament and was voted the MVP.

No. 45

1943: Fulfilling a pre-tournament agreement, players from Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) marched to a local blood bank and donated blood to the armed forces following a 50-30 loss to Cape Girardeau State (Mo.) in the tournament’s opening game. The two sides had agreed that the loser would donate blood.

No. 46

1945: The NAIA tournament resumed one year after World War II cancelled the 1944 event. Sixteen teams competed in the 1945 tournament won by Loyola (La.), and the full and current 32-team format resumed in 1946.

No. 47

1971: Grambling’s Charlie Anderson died as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident less than seven hours after returning to campus following a quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Kentucky State. Anderson, the victim of a hit-and-run accident, died just 32 hours after the quarterfinal defeat in Kansas City. He hit the game-winning basket inGrambling’s overtime victory over Glassboro State (N.J.) in the second round.

No. 48

1960: After winning three straight NAIA national championships (1957-59), Tennessee A lost to Westminster (Pa.) 39-38 in the semifinals. During that three-year run, Tennessee A won 18 consecutive tournament games, a record that still stands. The Tigers rebounded with a 100-65 win over William Jewell in the third-place game. Westminster lost 66-64 to Southwest Texas State in the championship game.

No. 49

1973: Future NBA players Lloyd Free -- later known as World B. Free -- and M.L. Carr, a future two-time champion with the Boston Celtics, led Guilford (N.C.) to the NAIA title with a 99-96 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. Free, in his only NAIA Tournament, led all players in scoring with a 24.0-point average and became the first freshman to earn the MVP award. He scored 30 in the title game. Carr was no stranger to the tournament, having earned all-tournament honors as a freshman in 1970 when he had 27 points and 20 rebounds in an upset of top-seeded and unbeaten Stephen F. Austin.

No. 50

1997: Coach Roger Kaiser led top-seeded Life (Ga.) to a 73-64 win over Oklahoma Baptist for the NAIA championship 23 years after coaching NAIA member West Georgia to the 1974 championship.

No. 51

2000: Georgetown (Ky.) survived a four-overtime game with Biola (Calif.), 118-108 and advanced to the national championship game to face top-seeded Life (Ga.), where the Tigers fell 61-59. The four overtimes were the second most in tournament history.

No. 52

1987: ESPN and the NAIA agreed on a new five-year contract to broadcast the semifinal and national championship games. The deal came on the heels of a successful 1987 debut for the tournament on ESPN. An estimated 1.5 million homes nationwide tuned into the first ESPN telecast of the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament.

No. 53

1950: River Falls (Wis.) Teachers College’s Nate DeLong, who notched the second-highest individual single-game scoring output in tournament history with 56 points in a 1947 game, finished his NAIA career. DeLong led River Falls to four straight conference titles and three trips to the national tournament.

No. 54

1970: The NAIA returned the dunk for the 1970-71 season. An announcement of this change in the NAIA basketball rules was made by Jim Gudger, head coach at Western Carolina. Dunking had been outlawed in high school and collegiate basketballbecause of the domination by tall players.

No. 55

1975: The tournament moved from cozy Municipal Auditorium to brand-new,18,000-seat Kemper Arena in the stockyards district of Kansas City. The tournament lost its intimate feel in the larger building, and the NAIA decided to relocate to Tulsa, Okla., starting with the 1994 tournament before returning to Municipal in 2002.

No. 56

1978: Fans of unseeded Kearney State (Neb.) packed Kemper Arena all week as their team worked its way to the finals before losing 79-75 to second-seeded Grand Canyon (Ariz.). The Antelopes played tension-packed games all week, starting with a 70-69 upset of No. 8 Mercyhurst (Pa.) and an 84-80 overtime thriller over No. 9 Wisconsin-Parkside 84-80 before shocking No. 1 seeded Winston-Salem State (N.C.), coached by Clarence "Big House" Gaines, 89-76 in the quarterfinals. The Antelopes reached the championship game with a 76-74 win over No. 5 Quincy (Ill.)

Tom Ritzdorf, a 6-foot-5 senior, was voted the tournament 's MVP; Randy Cipriano, the club's 5-foot-9 junior point guard, was awarded the tournament's Hustle Award, and both were first-team all-tournament selections.

No. 57

2009: It was a great tournament for the locals. In the first round, William Jewell knocked off top seed Rogers State (Okla.) 76-73; Mid-America Nazarene of Olathe upset perennial power Azusa Pacific (Cal.) and unseeded Columbia (Mo.) College beat No. 14 Lee (Ga.) Mid-America reached the semifinals where it lost to Columbia. Columbia fell to Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 77-61 in the first national championship game between two unseeded teams. The Battlin’ Bears also became the national basketball champion in the state of Montana.

No. 58

1993: All-Americans Roger Huggins and Andy Gardner transferred to Hawaii Pacific after their former school, Hawaii Loa, closed. Huggins and Gardner teamed with fellow All-American James Williams in lifting Hawaii Pacific to an 88-83 win over Oklahoma Baptist in the championship game. It was the first and only title for Hawaii Pacific.

No. 59

1940: After launching the first all-collegiate National Basketball Championship in 1937, NAIA executive secretary Emil Liston and fellow college coaches and athletic directors officially organized and created the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB).

No. 60

2011: Larry Lady participated in his 60th consecutive tournament. During those years, Lady has served as an honorary coach, game official, supervisor of officials, tournament committee member, radio color commentator, conference commissioner, sponsor and fan. Buck and Betty Farmer also celebrated 65 consecutive years of attendance at the NAIA Tournament and surpassed 2,000 NAIA Tournament games.

No. 61

1950: Central Methodist College of Fayette, Mo., upset defending champion Hamline (Minn.) 76-66 in the second round. The Eagles would finish third in the tournament by beating Tampa 80-67 in the consolation game.

No. 62

2003: Concordia (Calif.) won the NAIA championship with an 88-84 overtime victory against Mountain State (W.Va). Sophomore center Tanner Luster, winner of the Charles Stevenson Hustle Award, scored on a layup with 37.1 seconds left in overtime, breaking an 84-84 tie and propelling the Eagles to the title.

No. 63

1948: The Honorary Coaches program began. Under the program, an honorary coach from the community is assigned to each tournament qualifier in an effort “to make certain all 32 teams feel relaxed and at home, despite the fact that they may be hundreds or thousands of miles from their own homes.” The tradition continues today.

No. 64

2004: Mountain State (W.Va.) defeated defending champion Concordia (Calif.), 74-70 for the title in a rematch of the previous year’s championship game. With NBA scouts in attendance, Mountain State’s Zach Moss, a 6-foot-7 senior forward and NAIA National Player of the Year, scored a game-high 22 points. The title was the first and only one for the Cougars, who would lose in the 2008 and 2011 championship games.

No. 65

2003: Seven-foot Matt Laur single-handedly put his stamp on the 2003 NAIA Player of the Year award, helping McKendree (Ill.) eliminate defending champion Science Arts (Okla.). Laurjust missed a triple-double with 37 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in the 105-98 victory.

No. 66

1992: Ron Berkholtz served as one of 12 officials at the NAIA tournament despite nearly losing his life two months earlier. While working a Jan. 13 game, a player ran into Berkholtz, who then fell to the ground. The fall crushed his elbow into eight pieces and caused Berkholtz’s heart to stop beating. He made a full recovery but still sported a seven-inch scar on his arm as the 1992 tournament began.

No. 67

2011: McKendree’s (Ill.) College’s Harry Statham coached his final NAIA Tournamentgame. Statham became the first men’s coach at any four-year institution to win 1,000 games in his career during the 2009-10 season. He wrapped up his NAIA career with 1,043 coaching wins, as McKendree joined NCAA membership for the 2011-12 season.

No. 68

1965: Kenneth Wilburn led Central State (Ohio) to an 85-51 victory over Oklahoma Baptist in the title game and a perfect 30-0 season. Wilburn averaged 18.0 rebounds per game in the tournament, third in NAIA history.

No. 69

1953: Harold Wolfe poured through 54 points on 25 field goals and four free throws as Findlay (Ohio) defeated Pasadena (Calif.) 96-93 in a second-round game. Wolfe’s performance remains the third-highest single-game mark in tournament history.

No. 70

1979: Larry Jones, a 5-8 guard, scored 23 points with six assists and three steals in leading Marymount (Kan.) to a 79-74 first-round win over defending champion and No. 2 seed Grand Canyon (Ariz.). Jones followed that up with a 20-point performance in an 87-77 victory over No. 15 Norfolk (Va.) State before Marymount fell 77-76 in overtime to Midwestern State (Tex.) in the quarterfinals.

No. 71

1990: Oral Roberts’ Greg Sutton made a tournament-record 10 three-pointers, but it wasn’t enough as Georgetown (Ky.) beat the Titans 80-78 in the quarterfinals. Sutton’s record still stands.

No. 72

2005: John Brown (Ark.) completed its Cinderella run to a national championship with a 65-55 win over Azusa Pacific (Calif.). Junior guard and tournament MVP Brandon Cole scored a game-high 25 points to led unseeded John Brown to the school's first national championship.

No. 73

1969: Bill Grigsby handled play-by-play radio duties at the NAIA National Championship for the 18th time. Grigsby, who would later be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, also served as radio play-byplay anouncer for the Kansas City Chiefs and became a Kansas City icon. He died in February 2011.

No. 74

2001: Faulkner (Ala.) claimed its first men's championship with a 63-59 victory over Science Arts (Okla.). Tournament MVP Paul Little scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Eagles in the title game. Faulkner became the first No. 10 seed to win the NAIA title since seeding began in 1966 and the eighth double-digit seed to win the championship.

No. 75

1996: Freshman Marc Bishop hit an off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer that gave Findlay (Ohio) a 68-65 victory over 11th-seeded Harding (Ark.) in a first-round game. Buzzer-beaters would become a staple of NAIA Tournament play.