Story By Eric Montgomery | Media Coordinator
Photos courtesy of Referee Photo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) Senior guard Benat Hevia hit two free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining to give No. 4-seeded Dalton State (Ga.) a 62-60 victory over fifth-seeded Cumberlands (Ky.) to advance to the second round in the Cramer Bracket of the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, Thursday morning at Municipal Auditorium. The Roadrunners will play the winner of No. 1-seeded William Penn (Iowa) and No. 8-seeded Science & Arts (Okla.) on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. CDT.
- Dalton State improved its season record to 25-8
- Cumberlands ends its season with a record of 21-10
- With just nine games played thus far in the national championship, seven have been decided by 10 points or fewer
- Carnilious Simmons posted game-high totals of 19 points and 10 rebounds for Dalton State
- Isaiah Box added 11 points for the Roadrunners
- Will Gary tallied 16 points and five rebounds to lead the way for Cumberlands
- Anthony Eaves came off the bench and added 14 points for the Patriots
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Cumberlands led by as much as seven points in the first half, shooting 53.8 percent (14 of 26)
- After six ties and six lead changes in the first half, Eaves hit back-to-back three-point shots to help the Patriots take a 35-31 halftime lead
- The swings of momentum continued as Dalton State tied the game inside the first two minutes of the half, but trailed again by six on two second half occasions, including a 44-38 deficit with 12:41 left
- The Roadrunners slowed the tempo and effectively executed its offense in the second half, shooting 61.9 percent (13 of 21)
- Following the last of 10 ties in the game, Hevia hit two late free throws after Will Gary had knotted the teams with 24 seconds left
HOW THEY SAW IT
- Dalton State head coach Tony Ingle – “Benat (Hevia) stepped up big time. A lot of people know what Reed and Ty can do from the free throw line, but what people don’t know is Benat beat them in a free throw shooting contest in practice. I really don’t think he hears everyone yelling at him. I love him and he stepped up big time for the Roadrunners.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- The specialty statistics were similar in several areas, with both teams tallying five fast break points and 14 points off of an identical 14 forced turnovers
- Both teams struggled at the foul line, with Cumberlands finishing 4 of 9 and Dalton State shooting 8 of 15
- After attempting just one shot through 31 minutes on the court, Hevia hit a three-point shot to give the Roadrunners a 60-58 lead with 38 seconds remaining
Dalton State is making its third appearance in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, including three out of the last four years...Dalton State advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017 tournament before losing to eventual national champion Texas Wesleyan (Tex.)… In 2015, the Roadrunners made their first tournament appearance, and won the NAIA National Championship, defeating Westmont (Calif.) in the finals, 71-53… The Roadrunners are now 8-1 all-time in the national championship and are 3-0 in the opening round...Dalton is one of two Southern States Athletic Conference teams in this year's event … Coming into the game against Cumberlands (Ky.), Dalton State had won 14 of its past 18 contests… This is the first time that Dalton State has played a team from the Mid-South Conference in the tournament.
Cumberlands is back in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship for the fifth-straight season and 26th time overall… In the 2017 tournament, the Patriots fell in the first round to eventual national champion Texas Wesleyan by a score of 74-68… The Patriots are now 17-26 all-time in the national tournament, including 12-14 in the opening round... Cumberlands is one of six teams from the Mid-South Conference in this year's tournament... The Patriots were winners of five out of their last nine matchups prior to the national championship … This marks the second time since 2015 that Cumberlands has played a team from the Southern States Athletic conference, losing to No. 8 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) in the 2nd round, 73-59, in the 2015 event.