Story By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator
Photos courtesy of Referee Photo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) No. 6-seeded Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) completed the opening round of play in the Cramer Bracket at the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship with a 68-60 win over No. 3-seeded Hope International (Calif.), Thursday evening at Municipal Auditorium. The Saints will play No. 2-seeded Carroll (Mont.), a 61-53 winner over Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), on Friday, March 16 at 9:15 p.m. CDT.
- Our Lady of the Lake improved its season record to 22-11
- Hope International finished its season with a record of 25-6
- Fourteen of the sixteen first round games were decided by 10 points or less, including eight by six points or fewer and five by three points or under
- Higher seeds managed just a .500 record in the first round with two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds eliminated
- Courtney Julien tallied 16 points, four rebounds and four assists to lead the way for the Saints
- Brandell Collins added 13 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Alex Doche chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds for OLLU
- Charles Trotter posted game-high totals of 18 points and 13 rebounds for Hope International
- Liam Hunt added 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Royals
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Three-point shots were hoisted early and often in the first half as the teams combined to shoot 11 of 36 in the opening stanza, accounting for almost half of the total field goals before intermission (11 of 23)
- Hope International held a six-point lead with 1:59 left in the first half, but OLLU scored the final seven points to take a one-point advantage into the break
- The Royals pushed the lead back to six in the early moments of the second half, scoring six-straight points after a 34-34 stalemate
- Following a second-chance bucket by the Royals’ Donny Punter with 13:23 to play, the Saints scored the next 11 points to take the lead for good and held Hope International without a field goal for almost seven minutes
- A three-point shot by Brandell Collins as the shot clock expired with 1:24 remaining proved to be the basket that sealed the win for OLLU
HOW THEY SAW IT
- Our Lady of the Lake head coach Michael Poindexter – “Our effort was good. I think we came out a little antsy, waiting a whole week to play this game. Hope International is a great team, but we had to come back and match their intensity in the second half. In the first half they outplayed us and wanted it more. We matched their intensity and then some in the second half. We wanted to get high-percentage shots on the offensive end close the basket. Defensively, we wanted to make sure we kept them in front of us and contest their shots."
- Hope International head coach Bill Czech – “We had the lead right before the half and they made that little run on us. We needed the lead tonight with our situation being what it was, and once they got it we were playing from behind. We went through that six-minute period where we didn’t make a shot, but with all that said our seniors really came out and battled.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Hope International did not score in transition during the game and was limited to just four points off of 10 forced turnovers
- Our Lady of the Lake had six different players connect on at least one three-point shot
Our Lady of the Lake
The Saints return to the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship for the second time in three years and the fourth time in school history ... Our Lady of the Lake last qualified for the tournament in 2016, advancing to the quarterfinals before losing to MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), 95-82 ... The Saints are 5-3 all-time in the national championship and 4-0 in opening-round games...The Saints are one of four Red River Athletic Conference teams in this year's tournament...Our Lady of the Lake is 6-6 against 2018 championship qualifiers ... Our Lady of the Lake had dropped three of its last four games coming into the event ...
Hope International made its sixth appearance at the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, all since 2013…Hope International ends its season with a 3-4 record against teams in the 2018 championship…The Royals have the lowest student enrollment of any team in the 32-team field with 477 students…Liam Hunt averages a double-double every game, with 11.3 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game…Hunt’s double-double tonight gives him 12 on the season…Hope International led the NAIA in rebounding margin (10.6), but was out-rebounded by Our Lady of the Lake, 44-36.