KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No. 5-seeded Westmont (Calif.) erased a 12-point deficit in the first half en route to a 74-60 first round win over fourth-seeded William Carey (Miss.), Thursday afternoon in the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium. The Warriors will play the winner of No. 1-seeded LSU Alexandria (La.) and No. 8-seeded Science & Arts (Okla.) in a second round game on Friday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m. CST
Sean Harman hit 8 of 12 field goals and finished with a game-high 22 points to go along with four assists for Westmont. Hayden Anderson added 15 points and six rebounds, while Samuel Bentz tallied 11 points and three assists.
"I think the main thing is not to get anxious," said Westmont head coach John Moore in response to his team's early deficit. "I tried to be as calm as I could be and tell the guys, 'it's going to come, let's not be worried or nervous'. Sam's (Bentz) big three at the end of the first half gave us some momentum going into halftime."
The three-point shot nearly took Westmont out of the game early on as the Warriors were 2 of 16 (.125) from beyond the arc in the first half. The Warriors did convert 9 of 14 from inside the arc as Hayden Anderson began the comeback from a 24-12 deficit with a second chance bucket in the paint. The Warriors scored the next seven points to pull within three and finished the opening stanza with that deficit after a long-range connection by Bentz with five seconds left.
The late momentum carried over into the second half as Harman opened the half with a three-pointer and added another field goal as part of seven-straight points for a four-point lead. The teams were tied three times in the early stages before Harman pushed Westmont in front for good with another five-point stretch starting at the 13:02 mark.
The Warriors put the game away for good with a 10-2 stretch that lasted 4:37. William Carey recorded just one field goal over the final 9:22 of the game, while Harman added another three-pointer to ignite the game-clinching sequence.
"We only had three guys on the team that had played in this tournament before and I think the atmosphere and the setting got to us," said William Carey head coach Steve Knight. "We didn't play up to our potential today, but we held a lead at halftime. Westmont did a good job of taking away our dribble-drive, so we settled for jumpers. They are a well-coached team."
William Carey shot 46.4 percent (13 of 28) in the first half and hit 5 of 9 three-point shots, but was held to 10 of 32 (.313) after intermission and committed double the turnovers (16-8). Ashton Woodson (SR/Carriere, Miss.) led the Crusaders with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Leo Garrett (SR/Brookhaven, Miss.) added 12 points and Quinton Williams (SO/New Orleans, La.) tallied 10 points.
William Carey finished its season with a record of 24-8.
Westmont – The Warriors are appearing in their 19th national championship, improving to 11-8 all-time in the first round … Coach John Moore has led Westmont to 10 postseason appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2015 and a semifinal appearance in 1999… Through the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Warriors outscored William Carey, 27-18, to lead 55-49… Westmont is 25-4 when it scores 67 points or more and 0-3 when they score 66 or less… Sean McDonnell just missed his eighth double-double – he finished with eight points and 15 rebounds… The Warriors were just 6-for-28 from the three-point arc, but 20-of-30 from two point area.
William Carey – The Crusaders are making their 11th appearance in the NAIA Division I National Championship, qualifying for the second-straight season and fourth time in the last five years...The Crusaders are now 2-9 in opening-round games, last advancing to the second round in 2014, when William Carey defeated Philander Smith (Ark.) in the opening round…The Crusaders are now 2-11 all-time in the event...William Carey finished with a 16-4 record in the SSAC to win the conference title... William Carey is now 5-6 this season against teams in the championship...Coming into Thursday's game, William Carey was ranked seventh nationally in scoring, averaging 86.8 points per game and had scored no less than 73 points in a game this season...The Crusaders made 6 of 12 three-point attempts (50.0 percent), but only hit 17 of 48 two-point attempts (35.4 percent), finishing the game going 23 for 60 (38.3 percent) from the field.
General Game Notes
Westmont is one of four teams in the tournament from the Golden State Athletic Conference… William Carey is one of four teams from the Southern States Athletic Conference… The GSAC is currently 1-1… The SSAC is currently 0-2… Seeded fifth, Westmont was the second program in the tournament to win as a lower seed – through 10 games, the higher seeds are now 8-2… The team leading at halftime is 6-4 in the tournament so far… The two head coaches (William Carey coach Steve Knight and Westmont coach John Moore) combined for 1,118 career victories entering the Tournament… This contest was the fifth game decided by 10 or more points.
Article written by Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator