Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dream season comes to an end as Dillard falls to Langston 84-74 in the round of 16 at the NAIA national championship

KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- No. 6-seeded Langston (Okla.) recorded its second-straight upset, earning an 84-74 victory over No. 2-seeded Dillard (La.) in the second round of the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. The Lions advance to the quarterfinal round and will play the winner of No. 1-seeded William Penn (Iowa) and fourth-seeded Georgetown (Ky.) on Saturday, March 18 at 2:15 p.m., CST.

"I thought it was more back and forth, but our guards never could get in a flow," said Dillard head coach Mike Newell. "JJ (Morris) played well, but other than that, their guards totally dominated our guards, and that was the difference in the ball game."

In what has become a trend in several tournament games, the eventual winning team was forced to dig out of a double-digit deficit in the first half. Langston (24-9) was no different as it found itself down by a dozen points at the 10:38 mark of the first half after a three-pointer by Demetric Austin (SR/Washington, D.C.).

Renard Green canned a trey of his own to begin the long road back for the Lions, sparking a nine-point burst to trim the deficit to three in less than two minutes. After taking the lead in the latter stages of the first half, the Lions went to the break trailing by a point, 42-41.

The teams traded the lead early on in the second half and were tied with 8:50 remaining before Langston took control of the game for good. Jones scored inside and Harris hit from outside for a quick five-point surge to break the deadlock. Myles Elgin added a pair of field goals to stretch the lead to nine at the 7:03 mark, and the Bleu Devils got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

Langston did significant damage in the paint, scoring 48 points inside to just 28 for Dillard. The Lions also took advantage of a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers thanks to a 17-5 ledger in giveaways.

The Lions shot 17 of 33 (.515) in the second half and finished 49.3 percent (33 of 67) overall from the field. Dillard posted a 39-34 rebounding advantage that included an 11-9 edge on the offensive glass, but Langston had seven steals to just one for the Bleu Devils.

James Morris Jr. (JR/Peoria, Ill.) led all scorers with 27 points for Dillard, hitting 4-of-9 from three-point range and 10-of-16 overall. Austin finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Bleu Devils.

"Demetric had a good first half, but struggled a little bit in the second half," said Newell. "We couldn't penetrate and we had problems passing the ball in to him, but they are a good basketball team. It's one of those games that you wish you could get back, but we gotta hit the recruiting trail now. We lose some really good seniors, and we've got a strong nucleus coming back, and now we have to get two or three key players and shore up some depth."

Dillard finished its season with a record of 25-8.


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