Georgetown (Ky.) College, one of the NAIA’s storied programs, added another chapter to its basketball lore on Tuesday night.
And kept adding and adding.
Thirteen-seeded Georgetown, in its fifth NAIA Division I men’s basketball tournament championship game, overpowered fourth-seeded SAGU (Texas) 88-62, winning its second national title in front of 4,605 fans at Municipal Auditorium.
The Tigers have appeared in more NAIA tournaments — 32, including a record 22 straight — and have now won 59 tournament games, tying Oklahoma Baptist for the most ever.
But none of those wins was as impressive as this one, not even the 1998 championship. Georgetown’s 26-point margin of victory was the most decisive win in a title game since Texas Southern beat Campbellsville (Ky.) by 27 points in 1977, and it tied for the fifth-most lopsided win in the 76-year history of the tournament.
“Georgetown has great tradition, and the coaches before me laid the groundwork,” said Chris Briggs, who is in his second year as head coach after spending four years as an assistant to longtime coach Happy Osborne. “We owe it all to them, and all the great players who have played at Georgetown over the years.
“I’ve been getting texts and calls like crazy ever since we’ve been here from everybody in the Georgetown family. This one is for them. It’s for the guys here who earned it and all the guys in the past.”
Junior guard Monty Wilson won tournament MVP honors by scoring 23 points, his fourth straight game of 23 or more.
Georgetown’s average margin of victory in its first four tournament games was 2.75, including Monday night’s 90-88 semifinal win over LSU Shreveport on Wilson’s buzzer-beating, three-pointer, but they led by as many as 28 points on Tuesday.
“We’ve been having close games all tournament, and we just wanted to blow it out and show everybody how we can play,” Wilson said.
Four other Tigers scored in double figures, including NAIA player of the year Vic Moses, who scored 14 points with 13 rebounds, giving him a double-double in all five tournament games. Moses, a member of the Tigers’ semifinal team in 2011, sat out all of last year because of an Achilles’ injury when Georgetown was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
“I’ve waited for this a long time, and it feels good to finally get one,” said Moses, a 6-6 senior forward. “We’ve had a lot of bad luck we’d get to a Final Four we finally had a great team that stuck together, and we finally got us a ring. I knew if I came back, I had to get one.”
Moses, the NAIA’s leader in field-goal percentage this season because of his inside prowess, even made his second three-pointer of the season in 10 attempts.
“They left me open, so I had to take it,” Moses said of his three, which was part of a 12-2 run that gave the Tigers a 61-42 lead with 9 minutes to play.
Georgetown, 28-8, led 33-26 at halftime, and it could have been a bigger lead had the Tigers not turned the ball over 16 times in the first half against the Lions, who had forced their opponents into 20 turnovers a game in their first four games of the tournament.
SAGU, 33-5, had a chance to cut into the lead, but Mike Nwelue opened the second half by missing three of four free throws. SAGU trailed 47-40 after guard Dominique Rambo, who finished with 23 points, scored after a Tigers turnover but missed two opportunities to draw closer, and then Georgetown went on its decisive run.
“SAGU is a good team,” Briggs said. “They wouldn’t be in this championship game if they weren’t. They just couldn’t make shots, but we guarded them. We talked about contesting shots, rebounding the ball, keep dominating the glass, attacking the rim and take care of the ball.”
Georgetown outrebounded SAGU by 61-31 and held the Lions to 28 percent shooting from the floor.
“They’re a great team,” said SAGU coach Donnie Bostwick. “The (referees) didn’t call it very tight, so that didn’t favor us with their big bodies. I thought we drove to the basket and came up dry. They’re a great team, and I congratulate them.”