Top-ranked and unbeaten Northwest Missouri State forged some history en route to Sunday’s MIAA men’s basketball tournament finale.
Northwest, which beat Lincoln 86-69 in the first of Saturday’s two men’s semifinals at Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium, won its 31st game of the season, matching a school record set by Henry Iba’s 1929-30 squad.
The top-seeded Bearcats (31-0) will meet second-seeded Washburn, a winner over Pitt State in Saturday’s other semi, on Sunday at 1 p.m. It’s a rematch of last year’s title game, which Northwest won 80-74.
All five Northwest starters scored in double figures Saturday. Senior Joey Witthus had 23 points and freshman Diego Bernard added 21. Redshirt freshman Trevor Hudgins contributed 17 with seven assists and five steals.
Lincoln (18-12) led 6-0 at the outset, but Northwest responded with a 27-2 run fueled by four three-pointers. The Bearcats led by as many as 22 points in the first half and were comfortably ahead at the break, 43-26.
Guard Jonell Burton led Lincoln with 18 points and nine rebounds; Grant Olsson and Amariontez Ivory added 12 apiece.
Northwest, which will be playing in its 14th MIAA tourney championship game, has now won 28 straight on neutral floors — the longest active streak in the nation.
In Saturday’s second semifinal, the Ichabods (24-6) advanced with a marquee performance from Olathe East product Javion Blake. The senior guard scorched the Gorillas for a game-high 34 points.
Blake was 13 of 21 and Washburn shot a sizzling 57.9 percent from the floor. David Salach added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Ichabods, while Tyler Geiman chipped in 17 points, seven rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
Grant Lozoya paced Pitt State (17-13) with 26 points and Donovan Franklin had 25, becoming the 25th player in Pitt State history to reach 1,000 points in a career. Christian Edmondson added 15 points and eight rebounds.
On the women’s side top-seeded Fort Hays State rolled past No. 4 seed Washburn 75-48 in the first of Saturday night’s two semifinals. Lanie Page’s 15 points paced five Tigers who finished in double figures scoring. Washburn was led by Taylor Blue’s 15 points.
Fort Hays State will face Central Missouri in Sunday’s championship. The women’s final will be played following the 1 p.m. men’s final.
Central Missouri, the No. 2 seed, gutted out a 67-61 win over third-seeded Lindenwood in the nightcap.