Southern Nazarene claims 2013 NCCAA title


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - In an instant classic in the 2013 NCCAA women’s basketball national championship game, No. 4 Southern Nazarene made a defensive stop at the buzzer to claim a 74-72 victory over No. 2 California Baptist.

The Lancers trailed by four points with 26 seconds to play and nearly made a comeback to force overtime.

Simone Holmes made a contested jump shot to bring CBU within 74-72 with 17 seconds left, and Myriah Hicks intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass. Hicks and Jasmine Beverly missed a pair of close-range shots, but CBU was awarded the dead-ball rebound. Holmes received the ball in the waning seconds and drove to her left for a running floater, but her shot at the buzzer was off the mark.

Holmes led the Lancers with 20 points and six steals, and Hicks added 21 points and five rebounds.

The Crimson Storm made a remarkable 62 percent of their shots in the second half to help recover from an 11-point deficit in the first half.

Southern Nazarene was behind 31-20 with five minutes to play in the first half but charged into the locker room with a 37-37 tie after a late 3-pointer from Oumoul Thiam knotted the score.

The two sides were neck-and-neck down the stretch with four ties and seven lead changes after halftime, setting up the dramatic finish at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Annie Kassongo led all players in the championship game with 23 points and 11 rebounds for Southern Nazarene. Kassongo made 11-of-16 from the floor. Thiam also tallied 18 points and four assists, and Aminata Fall recorded 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.

California Baptist used their energy and effort to counteract a poor shooting performance. Despite attempting 22 more field goals than Southern Nazarene, the Lancers made two fewer shots.

The Lancers helped make up for their shooting by nabbing 12 steals and hauling in 13 offensive rebounds.

Hill's last-gasp shot propels Shorter to national championship


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Shorter University’s men’s basketball team was on the verge of heartbreak trailing Oklahoma Christian 77-74 in the waning seconds of the 2013 NCCAA men’s championship game.

But Walter Hill buried a last-second 3-pointer from the left corner to send the game into overtime, and the Hawks used that momentum to win 90-87 in overtime.

Oklahoma Christian had a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key at the end of overtime, but Devan White’s fading attempt came up short.

There was little to separate the two heavyweight contenders for much of the championship bout. Oklahoma Christian held a small lead throughout the first half en route to a 33-30 halftime advantage.

The Eagles continued their lead into the second half, and they found themselves on the verge of winning ahead 77-74 after a pair of Nick Tate free throws with 17 seconds remaining.

After a Shorter timeout, the Hawks got two strong looks at the game-tying 3-pointer but misfired each time. After the second miss, Shorter tapped out the loose rebound to Hill who took a step behind the 3-point line and floated his shot above the outstretched arms of the defense and into the net, sending the Hawks bench into a frenzied celebration at midcourt.

Anthony Banks then willed his team to victory in overtime by scoring 11 of Shorter’s 13 points in the extra session.

The Hawks led 90-84 with 1:04 remaining, but the Eagles made a valiant comeback with a quick 3-pointer by Eric Randall.

Shorter missed both of their free throw attempts on their end of the floor, allowing Oklahoma Christian to attempt a 3-pointer at the buzzer that glanced off the rim.

Banks and teammate Dedric Ware earned scoring honors in the championship with 26 points apiece. Banks recorded seven boards and two blocked shots, and Ware tallied seven boards and four steals.

Will Reinke paced the Eagles with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks while shooting 8-of-11 from the floor.

Union's stout defense stifles Oklahoma Christian


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - No. 1 Union put on a defensive clinic in the third-place game of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships, shutting down No. 6 Oklahoma Christian 64-53 on Saturday.

Oklahoma Christian was held to its lowest scoring output of the tournament as they connected on less than 30 percent of their shots in defeat.

A low-scoring first half saw both the Eagles and the Bulldogs falter with their shooting.

Union (36 percent) shot slightly better than Oklahoma Christian (29 percent), as they took a 27-21 advantage at the end of the first half.

The Lady Bulldogs’ small lead continued through the first 10 minutes of the second half before Union ripped off a trio of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to open up a 48-32 lead with 7:40 to play.

The Eagles were not able to muster a significant comeback over the final seven minutes of regulation as Union maintained a double-digit lead through the final buzzer.

Oklahoma Christian was impressive from the free throw line by canning 19-of-21 (91 percent). Their foul shooting did not translate away from the free throw line, however, as the Eagles made just 28 percent from the floor and 17 percent (4-of-23) from beyond the arc.

Shelby Ashcraft led all scorers with 17 points and six rebounds, and Amy Philamlee drained 10-of-12 free throws for 15 points.

Roz Hamilton paced the Eagles’ attack with 15 points, and Krista Stevens added 11 points.

Cedarville tops Fresno Pacific for third place


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - The Cedarville men’s basketball team ended its 2012-13 season on a high note with a 91-82 upset of top-ranked Fresno Pacific on Saturday.

The No. 2 Yellow Jackets drilled 11 shots from the 3-point line and made 50 percent of their field goals overall to win third place in the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

Cedarville’s offense was operating at full capacity in the first half as the Yellow Jackets made 52 percent of their field goals, including 6-of-10 from the 3-point line.

The Sunbirds, on the other hand, struggled to find their shooting touch. Fresno Pacific hit 3-of-19 (16 percent) from the 3-point line and 12-of-40 (30 percent) from the floor.

Austin Foote scored the first points of the game for Cedarville, and the Yellow Jackets steadily increased their margin after that point. No. 1 Fresno Pacific trailed 44-30 at the halftime break.

 Fresno Pacific found its offensive groove in the second half, however, on the potent scoring ability of John Taylor.

The Sunbirds initiated a trapping, fullcourt press in the second half and slowly swung momentum to their side. Taylor scored 29 points in the second half (37 points overall) to steer the Sunbirds back into contention.

Cedarville’s second-half lead dwindled from 21 points with 15:39 remaining to just two points at 69-67 when Taylor buried a 3-pointer with 7:41 to play.

But the Yellow Jackets responded by holding Fresno Pacific without a made field goal for the next three minutes. As a result, Cedarville grabbed a multiple-possession lead and maintained it the rest of the game.

Foote was Cedarville’s high scorer with 23 points and five rebounds. Zimmy Nwogbo also came off the bench to tally 21 points and eight boards.

Taylor’s 37 points for the Sunbirds came on 12-of-31 shooting and 7-of-16 from beyond the arc. Antonio Credit also notched nine points and a game-high 13 boards in defeat.

Evangels rally past Cougars for fifth place


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - No. 4 Mid-America Christian men’s basketball team overcame a 32-point, 10-rebound performance from Spring Arbor’s Chris Bellamy to win 74-68 in the fifth-place game of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

The Evangels allowed Spring Arbor to make nearly 60 percent of their shots in the first half, but they recovered in the second half thanks to a momentum-shifting run.

Spring Arbor made 14-of-24 from the floor in the first half, including 3-of-6 from the 3-point line and 8-of-8 from the foul line. But the Cougars did not capitalize on their shooting and took a small 39-33 lead into the halftime break.

The Cougars appeared to take control of the contest by netting the first eight points of the second half, leading 47-33 with 16:12 to play.

But Mid-America Christian altered the game for good by ripping off 18 consecutive points to take the lead away from the Cougars.

Bellamy drained a long 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to bring the Cougars within three points, but the Evangels added three more points from the free throw line to hold on for fifth place.

Charlie Shorter led the Evangels statistically with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals, and Camilo Valencia tallied 15 points and six assists.

Shorter's second-half comeback comes up empty


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Cedarville’s women’s basketball team had to withstand a furious late charge from No. 5 Shorter in the fifth-place game of the NCCAA National Championships as they came up with a timely 3-pointer to win, 64-56.

The third-seeded Yellow Jackets dominated play in the first half and even held a 21-point lead with 14:50 remaining in the game. But Shorter refused to go down quietly with a 24-9 charge down the stretch that came up short.

The Hawks had momentum fully on their side when Ieshia Alexander scored four points to bring Shorter within six at 60-54 with 2:36 to play.

Cedarville regained its footing, however, by making several defensive stops, and a 3-pointer by Kayla Jenerette with 41 seconds left all but iced the win.

The first half had far less excitement as Cedarville was in top form, taking a 40-26 lead into halftime.

The Yellow Jackets held the Lady Hawks to 23 percent shooting before halftime while making 17-of-32 (53 percent) on their offensive end of the court.

Kayla Jenerette scored 13 first-half points to propel Cedarville. She finished with a game-high 20 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Raegan Ryan buried both of her 3-pointers to finish with 10 points.

Shelby Farrer paced Shorter’s offense with 13 points, and Alexander added 12 points and three assists.

Crusaders pull away late from Redhawks


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - No. 7 Tennessee Temple’s men’s basketball team outlasted No. 8 Roberts Wesleyan in the seventh-place game of the NCCAA tournament by the score of 80-61.

Roberts Wesleyan only trailed 58-53 with 8:15 to play, but the Crusaders ended the game on a 22-8 run to ease away down the stretch.

Five players scored at least 10 points for Tennessee Temple, led by 16 points off the bench from Elliot Johnson, 15 points from Rashaud Bell, 14 points apiece from Hampton Mack and PJ Whittaker and 12 points from Weedlens Beauvil.

Although Roberts Wesleyan shot 46 percent on offense for the game, the Redhawks hampered their own cause by committing 19 turnovers.

A tightly contested first half began to shift Tennessee Temple’s direction in the second half when they increased their lead to 15 points with less than 12 minutes to go.

Roberts Wesleyan clawed back with 10 straight points to bring themselves within five with 8:15 on the clock, but their momentum ran out after that.

Tennessee Temple ended the game by scoring the final 13 points to pull away late. The Redhawks did not put another point on the scoreboard for the final 3:40.

The Redhawks were led in scoring by Devin Grimes (21 points, 10 rebounds), who was named an honorable mention for NCCAA All-American after the contest.

Roberts Wesleyan concludes season with win


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - In the seventh-place game of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships, Roberts Wesleyan’s women’s basketball team held on late to defeat host Grace 59-55 on Friday.

The Redhawks made less than 40 percent of their shot attempts, but they also held the Lady Lancers to 34 percent shooting in their victory.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team leading by more than four points. 

With a minute remaining in the half, Grace scored four quick points to even the count at 28-28 heading into the halftime break.

Although Roberts Wesleyan held the Lady Lancers to 35 percent from the floor in the opening half, the Redhawks hurt their own cause with 11 turnovers. Juaneice Jackson paced the Lady Lancers with 12 first-half points.

Six minutes into the second half, Sarah Feasby’s driving shot with 14:21 to play lifted Grace to a 38-35 lead, but that margin would prove to be the last lead for Grace.

Roberts Wesleyan regained the lead with a 9-0 run and held off a late push from Grace to secure the win.

Samantha Courtney led the Redhawks off the bench with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and Marissa Bunce added 11 points and six assists.

Jackson earned scoring honors in the game with 21 points and three assists, and Allison Kauffman added 12 points and nine rebounds.

After the game’s conclusion, Juaneice Jackson and the Redhawks’ Marissa Sell were honored as 2013 NCCAA First Team All-Americans.

Deadly outside shooting lands CBU in title game


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - It’s rare when a team shoots better from outside the 3-point line than inside the arc, but that’s exactly what happened to No. 2 California Baptist in the NCCAA semifinals.

The Lancers swished 13-of-23 (57 percent) from beyond the arc en route to a 98-86 victory over No. 6 Oklahoma Christian.

California Baptist blitzed Oklahoma Christian with eight 3-pointers in the first half as the Lancers claimed a 45-27 lead at halftime.

The Eagles made several bursts in the second half in an attempt to eliminate the Lancers’ lead, but each time California Baptist provided an answer – often from the 3-point line.

Oklahoma Christian managed to cut California Baptist’s advantage to 10 points in the final minutes, but it was too little, too late.

Simone Holmes made four 3-pointers for a team-high 25 points for the Lancers, and Myriah Hicks drained 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and 10-of-10 from the foul line for 19 points. Jasmine Beverly also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The Eagles’ Katy O’Steen led all players with 31 points to go along with eight rebounds, and Roz Hamilton posted 13 points and four boards.

California Baptist will prepare for their title bout with No. 4 Southern Nazarene on Saturday at 5 p.m.  Oklahoma Christian, on the other hand, will take on No. 1 Union for third place on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Southern Nazarene wins overtime thriller over No. 1 Union


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - The top-seeded Union Lady Bulldogs did everything in their power to avoid an upset to No. 4 Southern Nazarene in Thursday’s NCCAA semifinals, but the Crimson Storm showed resilience with a 68-67 overtime win.

Union used a massive second-half comeback to tie the game in regulation but came up empty on a potential game-winning jumper in the final seconds of overtime.

Aminata Fall was unstoppable for Southern Nazarene, totaling 30 points, 22 rebounds and 5 blocked shots in the win. Her 22 boards tied an NCCAA tournament record.

Southern Nazarene led by as many as 20 points in the first half to shock No. 1 Union, entering the halftime break with a 36-19 advantage. Union shot a dismal 16 percent from the floor in the first half (5-of-32).

The Lady Bulldogs still trailed 54-40 with 9:34 to play, but they ended regulation on a monumental 17-3 run to force overtime. Astrid Huttemann drilled a trio of 3-pointers during Union’s charge to fuel the comeback, and a free throw from Amy Philamlee with six seconds remaining tied the game at 57-57.

The Crimson Storm nearly won the game with a last-second 3-pointer from the left corner, but although the shot went in, the release was after the final horn.

The overtime period again saw Southern Nazarene jump out to a sizeable lead with the Crimson Storm ahead 68-61 with 1:19 remaining. But similar to regulation, Huttemann nailed a pair of 3-pointers to bring the team within one point with 26 seconds remaining.

Union fouled with 13 seconds left, and the Crimson Storm misfired on both free throw attempts. Huttemann then drove to the right side of the floor and pulled up for a contested jumper for the win, but her shot attempt came up short.

Latesa McLaughlin was the high scorer for Union with 21 points, and Huttemann finished with 15 points.

Southern Nazarene will play for the 2013 NCCAA championship against No. 2 California Baptist on Saturday at 5 p.m. while Union will take on No. 6 Oklahoma Christian for third place on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Oklahoma Christian advances to NCCAA title game


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - No. 3 Oklahoma Christian put on an impressive performance in the NCCAA semifinals to take down Cedarville 79-66 on Thursday.

The Eagles made nearly half of their field goal attempts (48 percent) in the win as Will Reinke poured in 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Oklahoma Christian drained 16-of-30 (53 percent) of their shots in the first half and led for all but two minutes.

Cedarville trimmed a 13-point deficit down to 40-34 at the break, desperate to defend their 2012 NCCAA title.

The Yellow Jackets still trailed 49-45 with 14:59 to play, but the Eagles soon after built up a double-digit cushion. The Eagles then made six free throws in the final 41 seconds to secure their spot in Saturday’s championship game.

Kendre Talley added 12 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds for Oklahoma Christian, and Nick Tate chipped in eight points and five rebounds.

Zimmy Nwogbo paced Cedarville with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Marcus Reineke and Austin Foote added 13 points apiece.

Oklahoma Christian will square off with Shorter at 2 p.m. for the 2013 championship, and Cedarville will play for third place against Fresno Pacific on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Shorter knocks off No. 1 Sunbirds


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Shorter men’s basketball team earned itself a spot in the 2013 NCCAA national championship game with a 104-95 toppling off No. 1 Fresno Pacific on Thursday.

The fifth-seeded Hawks will play the winner of No. 3 Oklahoma Christian and No. 2 Cedarville in the title game on Saturday at 2 p.m.

All five starters reached double-digit scoring for Shorter, including 28 points and nine rebounds from Anthony Banks and 25 points and seven assists from Dedric Ware.

Malcolm Griffin led all players with 29 points for Fresno Pacific and his teammate John Taylor added 27 points, but their effort was not enough to keep pace with Shorter.

Although Shorter led from start to finish in the semifinal contest, the Hawks’ margin changed wildly in both halves.

Fresno Pacific trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and found themselves in a 54-39 hole at halftime.

But the Sunbirds came out firing in the second half, opening the half on an 11-0 run to cut Shorter’s advantage to 54-50 with 17:05 to play.

Over the next five minutes, however, Shorter held Fresno Pacific to four points. The Hawks built their cushion back up to double digits and maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way.

Marquis King recorded 21 points for Shorter, Walter Hill scored 16 points, and Kenny Leverette added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Fresno Pacific will play in the third-place game on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Cedarville subdues Grace in NCCAA second day


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - An efficient performance from third-seeded Cedarville University’s women’s basketball team resulted in a 71-57 victory over the host Grace College on Thursday in the consolation bracket.

The Yellow Jackets made 46 percent of their field goal attempts and placed four players in double-digit scoring to bounce back from an upset loss on Wednesday.

Although Grace did force Cedarville into 19 turnovers, the Yellow Jackets outperformed the Lady Lancers in nearly every other statistical category.

Cedarville held a dominant 43-26 advantage in rebounding and recorded 20 assists on 25 made field goals. Conversely, Grace struggled with their shooting touch by making less than 40 percent of their shots each half and 3-of-15 (20 percent) from the 3-point line.

The Yellow Jackets exceled from the onset of the game to claim an 18-8 lead. Juaneice Jackson did her best to erase Grace’s deficit by tallying seven points in the final 2:52 of the half, but Cedarville still owned a 33-28 lead at the break.

A quick steal and fastbreak layup from Jayla Starks in the first minute of the second half brought the Lady Lancers to within three at 33-30. But Cedarville’s Raegan Ryan scored on the next two possessions, and Grace did not come closer than one possession of the Yellow Jackets’ score again.

Ryan paced the Yellow Jacket attack with 18 points and five assists, and Deborah Gordon added 14 points off the bench. Kayla Linkous and Kayla Jenerette also scored 12 points for Cedarville.

Jackson was the lone double-digit scorer for Grace with a game-best 25 points and five steals.

Cedarville will play No. 5 Shorter on Friday at 5 p.m. for fifth place, and Grace hosts No. 8 Roberts Wesleyan at 1 p.m. Friday for seventh place.

Nash's long-range shooting propels Shorter


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Kristin Nash’s 3-point marksmanship proved to be too much for No. 8 Roberts Wesleyan to handle as the fifth-seeded Shorter won 73-52 in the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

Nash made 6-of-7 from beyond the arc for a game-high 27 points as Shorter made 11 treys as a team in the win.

In the early going, Roberts Wesleyan seemed to be the more poised team. A 3-pointer from Marissa Bunce handed the Redhawks a 14-10 lead.

But the Hawks proceeded to go on a 17-3 run after Bunce’s 3-point shot to swing momentum back to Shorter for good.

The Hawks led 33-24 at the halftime break and eventually increased their advantage to 20 points by the final buzzer.

Lnidsey Crawford for Shorter (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Marissa Sell for Roberts Wesleyan (18 points, 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles in the contest.

Shorter held a plus-15 advantage in rebounding as they held Roberts Wesleyan into 5-of-20 shooting from the 3-point line (25 percent).

The Hawks will face the winner of Cedarville and Grace on Friday at 5 p.m. in the fifth-place game of the tournament. Roberts Wesleyan will take on the loser on Friday at 1 p.m.

Cougars pick up wire-to-wire victory over Crusaders


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Spring Arbor’s men’s basketball team led from start to finish in an 85-60 victory over Tennessee Temple on the second day of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

The sixth-ranked Cougars were at the top of their game on both ends of the floor in the win, shooting 52 percent on the offensive end as a team and holding the Crusaders to 30 percent defensively.

Matt Howe highlighted Spring Arbor’s offense with 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, Chris Bellamy added 17 points and eight boards, and Rob Hogans chipped in 12 points.

No. 7 Tennessee Temple was held to just four points over the first seven minutes of the contest as the Cougars opened up a small lead.

Spring Arbor led by double digits by the end of the first half, but the Crusaders came charging back into contention early in the second half.

The Crusaders drilled two quick 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the second half to close the Cougars’ margin to 42-37 with 17:48 remaining.

But Spring Arbor closed the door on a comeback with a 16-4 run over the next four minutes.

Weedlens Beauvil and Corey Sanders led Tennessee Temple with 11 points apiece, and Rashaud Bell scored 10 points off the bench.

Spring Arbor will have fifth place on the line on Friday at 7 p.m. when they face No. 4 Mid-America Christian. Tennessee Temple will play Roberts Wesleyan on Friday at 3 p.m.

Strong second half leads Evangels to win


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - For the first 20 minutes of action, Mid-America Christian men’s basketball team played even with No. 8 Roberts Wesleyan.

But the No. 4 Evangels outscored Roberts Wesleyan 53-39 in the second half to win 91-69 on Thursday morning in the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

The Redhawks led 26-22 with five minutes to play in the half before the Evangels began to assert control. Charlie Shorter scored five points in the final 36 seconds of the first half, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, as a sign of things to come for Mid-America.

Shorter continued his hot streak by scoring the first five points of the second half to lift Mid-America to a 43-30 lead with 17:13 remaining in the game.

The Evangels possessed a sizeable cushion over Roberts Wesleyan for the rest of the game as the Redhawks could not come closer than 13 points of their lead after that juncture.

Shorter led all players with 32 points. He also added 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. Angelo Lewis produced 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

The Redhawks, who made 32 percent of their field goal attempts, were paced by 16 points and eight rebounds from Tyrel Dixon and 15 points and 11 rebounds from Devin Grimes.

Mid-America will face the winner of Spring Arbor and Tennessee Temple in the fifth-place game on Friday at 7 p.m. while Roberts Wesleyan will face the loser of that contest on Friday at 3 p.m.

Cedarville clinches final NCCAA semifinal spot


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Cedarville men’s basketball team made short work of No. 7 Tennessee Temple by the score of 87-58 in the first round of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

The Yellow Jackets shot 57 percent from the floor, including a 63-percent performance in the second half, to advance to Thursday’s national semifinals against No. 3 Oklahoma Christian at 5:15 p.m.

Austin Foote, who led all players with 24 points, got Cedarville off to a fast start as the Yellow Jackets erupted for 12 straight points after the tipoff in less than two minutes. Foote scored eight of Cedarville’s first 12 points.

Tennessee Temple trailed by double figures for nearly the entire rest of the contest. Foote’s 17 first-half points paced the Yellow Jackets to a 39-26 halftime cushion.

The Crusaders did their best to cut into Cedarville’s lead. After a pair of consecutive 3-pointers from Tennessee Temple, the Crusaders found themselves trailing by 10 points with 11 minutes remaining.

But within four minutes of the Crusaders’ run, Cedarville had ballooned its margin to 20 points to end any further threat of a comeback.

Foote hit 10-of-13 from the floor for 24 points. Jason Cuffee stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds and 0 turnovers, and Daniel Hickman produced 13 points off the bench for Cedarville.

The Crusaders were highlighted offensively with 13 points from Elliot Johnson and 11 points from Hampton Mack.

Tennessee Temple will take on No. 6 Spring Arbor on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. in the consolation bracket.

Cal Baptist pulls away from Grace in second half


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - An evenly played first half dissipated into an easy victory for second-seeded California Baptist over No. 7 Grace in the first round of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

California Baptist made better than 50 percent of their shots each half en route to their 83-65 win on Thursday.

CBU’s Simone Holmes made 10-of-12 from the floor for a game-high 22 points and five steals, and Jasmine Beverly recorded 18 points and nine rebounds.

Grace was sluggish through the midway point of the first half and trailed 33-20 with under five minutes to play, but the Lady Lancers jumpstarted themselves to end the half on a 13-3 charge. CBU possessed a slight 36-33 advantage into the halftime break.

Grace kept the score close through the first five minutes of the second half until CBU launched an 18-2 run. The Lady Lancers were unable to come closer than 15 points for the remainder of the contest.

California Baptist held a 37-27 advantage in rebounding with 12 offensive boards to their credit. They made 52 percent of their field goals to offset a 13-of-26 performance from the free throw line.

Allison Kauffman recorded 13 points and six rebounds to lead Grace, Juaneice Jackson tallied 10 points, and Jayla Starks added 7 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

California Baptist advances to the semifinals against No. 6 Oklahoma Christian on Thursday at 8:45 p.m. while Grace will take on No. 3 Cedarville on Thursday at 1:45 p.m. in the consolation bracket.

Taylor's 50 points lifts Fresno Pacific in shootout


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - No. 1 Fresno Pacific and No. 8 Roberts Wesleyan teamed up for the most action-packed game of the first day of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships as Fresno Pacific won 113-101.

Fresno’s John Taylor scored an incredible 50 points to highlight the Sunbirds’ effort as they locked up a spot in Thursday’s NCCAA semifinals.

Taylor scored early and often for the Sunbirds, tallying 29 first-half points on 10-of-14 shooting.

Roberts Wesleyan jumped out to an early 15-9 lead over the top-ranked Sunbirds, but Fresno charged back in front with a 14-2 run.

The Sunbirds maintained their lead through the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Redhawks refused to back down from the No. 1 seed, however, and retook the lead at 91-90 on a 3-pointer from Mike Stone with less than five minutes remaining.

Fresno Pacific earned the victory down the stretch by scoring 15 of the game’s next 18 points, coasting to their double-digit win.

Five players reached double figures for the victors, including Taylor, Malcolm Griffin, Rickey Vick, Matt Samuels and Antonio Credit. Taylor made 16-of-23 from the floor and 14-of-18 from the foul line for his 50-point outburst.

Stone paced Roberts Wesleyan with 31 points on six 3-pointers, and Tyrel Dixon added 28 points and four assists.

Fresno Pacific will face off against No. 5 Shorter on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the NCCAA semifinals, and Roberts Wesleyan plays Mid-America Christian on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Union escapes upset-minded Redhawks in OT


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Eighth-seeded Roberts Wesleyan nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament with a narrow 81-75 overtime defeat to No. 1 Union University.

The Redhawks tied the game in the final second of regulation, but top-seeded Union pulled away in overtime to advance to Thursday’s NCCAA semifinals. The Lady Bulldogs will face No. 4 Southern Nazarene at 7 p.m. for a shot at the NCCAA national championship.

Union controlled action in the early stages of the game, taking a 13-2 lead after the tipoff. Roberts Wesleyan missed their first 10 field goal attempts. The Redhawks’ first basket of the game came with 12:43 remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer from Marissa Bunce.

The Lady Bulldogs held a double-digit lead into parts of the second half and possessed a 60-48 lead with 7:18 to play. But Roberts Wesleyan battled back with a 14-0 run to take their first lead of the game on another 3-pointer from Bunce with 3:34 to play.

Union showed composure to take a late 67-64 advantage with 17 seconds to play, but Sarah Alwardt sent the game into overtime with an individual effort.

Alwardt was fouled with three seconds left and proceeded to hit the first shot and, trailing by two points, missed the second shot intentionally. She then snagged the deflected rebound and drove left for the game-tying layup with seven-tenths of a second to play. Union was unable to get a shot off to send the game to overtime.

The overtime period was even until back-to-back 3-pointers from Union put the Lady Bulldogs ahead for good. Union sank six free throws in the final 1:19 to clinch the win.

Union’s Amy Philamlee made all 10 of her free throw attempts for 21 points and nine assists. Amber Rechis also drilled six 3-pointers for 18 points.

Brittany Williams led all players with 31 points on 5-of-7 from beyond the arc for the Redhawks, and Marissa Sell pounded out 28 points and 12 rebounds in the post.

Roberts Wesleyan will face Shorter in the consolation bracket at 12 p.m. Thursday.

Hays reaches 700 wins as Eagles top Spring Arbor


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Oklahoma Christian men’s coach Dan Hays reached a personal milestone with his 700th career coaching victory in the team’s 83-59 win over Spring Arbor in the first round of the NCCAA National Championships.

The Eagles blew open a 34-31 halftime advantage by outscoring the Cougars by 21 points after halftime.

An explosive first half from Spring Arbor’s Rob Hogans allowed the Cougars to lead for nearly the entire period. A late 14-4 spurt from the Eagles, however, lifted the team to a three-point halftime lead.

Five minutes into the second half, Oklahoma Christian made their move. The Eagles scored 17 unanswered points over a four-minute stretch to claim a 59-44 lead with 11:15 to play. Spring Arbor did not come closer than 12 points of the Eagles’ lead after that juncture.

Will Reinke tied for team scoring honors with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, and Nick Tate came off the bench to add 17 points.

The Cougars’ Hogans was the team’s primary offensive weapon with 26 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the 3-point line.

Spring Arbor committed 17 turnovers, 11 of which came after halftime. Oklahoma Christian, on the other hand, made 19-of-33 from the floor in the second half.

The Eagles advance to the NCCAA semifinals on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. against the winner of Cedarville and Tennessee Temple. Spring Arbor will play on Thursday at 10:15 a.m.

Shorter's offense too strong for Mid-America


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Shorter’s men’s basketball team put on an offensive showcase in their opening game of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships with a 101-89 win over No. 4 Mid-America Christian.

The Hawks placed all five starters in double-digit scoring, shot over 50 percent from the field in each half and tallied at least 50 points in both halves.

Anthony Banks was a force on both ends of the court for Shorter with 33 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocked shots and 4 assists. Walter Hill also drilled five 3-pointers for 26 points for Shorter.

Shorter seized early control of the contest with a 25-6 run and never looked back. Mid-America trailed 50-32 at the halftime break.

The Evangels did their best to slice into Shorter’s lead in the second half with 57 points as a team after halftime, but their effort wasn’t enough to erase the Hawk’s halftime edge.

The Evangels used back-to-back 3-pointers from Camilo Valencia and Charlier Shorter to bring themselves back to 87-74 with 4:07 to play. But Shorter made enough offensive plays down the stretch to cruise to their double-digit victory.

Charlie Shorter scored 31 points on five 3-pointers to lead Mid-America’s offense, and Reggie Davis flirted with a triple-double by tallying 9 points, 11 boards and 7 assists.

Shorter will square off with the winner of Fresno Pacific and Roberts Wesleyan in the NCCAA semifinals on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., and the Evangels will play on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. in the consolation bracket.

Oklahoma Christian's comeback upsets Cedarville


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - No. 6 Oklahoma Christian’s women’s basketball team pulled out a narrow 78-74 win over Cedarville University in the opening round of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships.

The Eagles’ thrilling upset of the No. 3 Yellow Jackets saw Oklahoma Christian erase a 13-point deficit in the second half.

Raegan Ryan was lethal for the Yellow Jackets in the opening half, draining 6-of-7 from the floor and making all four of her 3-point attempts for 18 points.

Ryan’s effort, along with holding Oklahoma Christian to 31 percent shooting, allowed Cedarville to take a 40-30 lead into halftime.

But the Eagles struck back with a fury in the second half as they made 57 percent of their shots, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.

Oklahoma Christian especially did their damage at the free throw line where they sank 20-of-26 after halftime. Cedarville, on the other hand, made 2-of-4 free throws in the second half.

The score did not tilt more than four points in either team’s favor for the final 7:53. Taylor Vander Plas scored a bucket in the paint for Cedarville to cut their deficit to one at 75-74 with 17 seconds remaining.

But OCU’s Logan McKee made a free throw to double the team’s lead before achieving the defensive play of the game with a block on Cedarville’s potential game-tying shot. The Eagles then sank two free throws to ice the victory.

Sydney Hill erupted for 22 of her game-high 24 points after halftime to lead the Eagles, and Roz Hamilton recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards.

Cedarville’s Ryan finished with 23 points with five 3-pointers, and Kayla Jenerette recorded 18 points.

Oklahoma Christian will play in the NCCAA semifinals on Thursday at 8:45 p.m. against the winner of California Baptist and Grace College. Cedarville will play at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.

Southern Nazarene charges past Shorter


WINONA LAKE, Ind. - The fourth-seeded Southern Nazarene women's basketball team blew past No. 5 Shorter in the first game of the 2013 NCCAA National Championships by the score of 79-49.

Four players reached double-digit scoring for the Crimson Storm, led by 17 points and 19 rebounds from Aminata Fall.

Southern Nazarene overwhelmed Shorter in the first half, claiming a 37-22 lead at the break.

Fall (9 points, 13 rebounds) and Annie Kassongo (13 points) led the way for the Crimson Storm in the opening period. Shorter struggled to find their shot, making 8-of-35 in the first half and 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Shorter created momentum for their side by scoring the first six points of the second half, however, trimming Southern Nazarene’s lead to 37-28.

But the Crimson Storm unleashed a 15-2 run over the next 6:45 to seize a 20-point cushion over Shorter. Their lead expanded up to as much as 38 points as Southern Nazarene made five 3-pointers and 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the second half.

Annie Kassongo earned scoring honors from the Crimson Storm with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

Lindsey Crawford paced Shorter with 12 points and 10 boards, and Karisma Boykin chipped in 11 points.

Southern Nazarene advances to the national semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of No. 1 Union and No. 8 Roberts Wesleyan.