The MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers didn’t have another comeback in them.
Despite a 32-point performance from senior forward Jacob French, the Pioneers were unable to replicate their comeback from a night earlier and lost 83-74 to second-seeded Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) College in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday at Municipal Auditorium.
The Blue Raiders, 32-4, advanced to a semifinal game at 6 on Monday night against sixth-seeded SAGU (Texas), an 84-79 winner over Montana Western.
MidAmerica’s Conner Langrehr drilled a three-pointer late in the first half that tied the game at 20, but Blue Raiders guard Daronte’ Clark ignited a 13-0 run with eight straight points on back-to-back three-pointers and two free throws.
The Pioneers, 26-10, never recovered, and unlike Friday night’s second-round comeback from a 12-point, second-half deficit against Oklahoma Baptist, could not get closer than eight points.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” said Pioneers coach Rocky Lamar. “We did a really poor job of finding their shooters. We worked hard to tie it up, and then, bam, bam, they hit two threes, and from then on, we were trying to get out of the hole.”
A putback by French got the Pioneers within 72-64 with 1:51 to play, but he soon fouled out and received a warm ovation from the crowd of 5,275 fans.
“Jacob French and Rustin Dowd are two unbelievable seniors who didn’t want their careers to end,” Lamar said. “I’ve been proud of them all year, and in this tournament, they’ve been terrific. The first night, Jacob gets 20 rebounds, and (Saturday) he gets 32 points. What a career he’s had for us.”
Clark, a transfer from Troy University, scored 21 for Lindsey Wilson, which reached the semifinals for the first time in 11 trips to the NAIA Tournament.
SAGU (Texas) 84, Montana Western 79
Sixth-seeded SAGU, which led 34-12 at halftime, had to hold off a furious rally by the No. 14 Lights and reached the NAIA semifinals for the first time in school history.
Forward Duce Ward led the Lions with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while guard Dominique Rambo added 18 points. Vince Turk scored 22 for Montana Western, 24-10, and Kris Collins scored 21 on seven of 12-three-point shots.
SAGU led 58-38 on a three-pointer by Rambo with 9:32 to play before Montana Western, 24-10, got back in the game with a 13-0 run and drew to within 62-57. But that was as close as the Lights could get as SAGU, 32-4, responded with a 9-0 run of its own. The run was powered by three baskets from Ward, including a thundering slam.
SAGU, formerly known as Southwestern Assemblies of God University, has won its first three tournament games by 4, 4 and 5 points.
“We played some great defense to start the game,” said second-year coach Donnie Bostwick. “That’s a great team. I knew they weren’t done. I did a poor job myself not keeping my team focused, but once they made that run, we did fight through.”