(4) Mid-America Christian (Okla.) 100
(1) Georgetown College 99 F/OT
Final from Kansas City, Missouri
Game recap by NAIA:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Malcolm Mann nearly lost the basketball on his way to the cup as time ran out in the title game of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship Tuesday (March 22), but the junior gathered himself to hit the game-winner with under a second left to lift No. 4-seed Mid-America Christian (Okla.) to its first-ever NAIA national championship, 100-99 in overtime, over top seeded Georgetown (Ky.).
The Plano, Texas, native saw his shot bounce on the rim three times before dropping through and the Evangels took home the 79th annual red banner.
"If I didn't see anyone within two seconds I was taking it myself," Mann said. "I lost the ball for a little bit, and by the grace of God it went in."
Mann had 23 points for the Evangels (28-9), who won the title in just their second trip to the championship, two off Devonse Reed's team-high 25. Following the game, Reed was named the Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player Award winner.
"It's really about helping my teammates," Reed said. "I know they have my back and I do my best to have their back."
Georgetown (32-4) was led by Noah Cottrill, who posted a game-best 32, followed by Tony Kimbro with 25 and Deondre McWhorter with 21. On the other side, five found double digits for the Evangels, getting 16 from Bryon Miller, 14 from Nick Tate and 12 for Chris Runnells. But it was Mann's final two that will be remembered most.
"I don't think we even got Malcolm a screen, but four seconds for him is a lifetime," said MACU head coach Josh Gamblin. "He got what he wanted and it was a tremendous finish."
MACU didn't lead until the 2:07 mark in the second half, trailing by as many as 14, 55-41, with 18:52 left in the second half. The Evangels used a 19-5 run to tie the game at 60 with 13:11 to play on a fast-break lay-in by Mann. It took MACU 11 minutes to go ahead, but the Evangels were down 82-80 with 46 seconds left when Kimbro broke an 80-all tie in the lane to make it 82-80. But the Tigers’ Runnells managed to hit a shot that sent the game to overtime with 21 seconds to play.
Tied at 82 after 40 minutes, Georgetown began overtime on a 4-0 run on free throws by McWhorter and a pair in the lane for Jordan Green to make it 86-82. MACU followed with the next five points, going up 87-86 when Miller laid in two after Green turned the ball over at the 3:00 mark. Reed was credited with a steal and Green an intentional foul that put Reed at the line, making the first before Miller's basket to regain the lead for MACU.
The lead changed hands two more times before Mid-America Christian took what looked like it might be the game's last lead change, down 88-87 when Reed followed his own miss for two points to put the Evangels on top 89-88. MACU led by as many as four, up 97-93 on two free throws for Exzavia Seaton, but Trent Gilbert capped a 6-1 run for the Tigers, draining a three from the corner in front of the Georgetown bench with less than five seconds to play, putting Georgetown back on top 99-98.
“Trent came off the bench and hit a shot he has hit a million times," said Georgetown coach Chris Briggs. "I knew he was going to hit it. Our guys might have celebrated too much at that point. Tried to pull them back together."
After the near-dagger, MACU's Mann went nearly the full 94 feet to score the final bucket, getting the ball out of his hand a tenth of a second before Municipal Auditorium's red backboard light came on. The ball ticked the iron three times before falling through, handing the Evangels their first-ever NAIA national championship.
General Tournament Notes
• This year marked a new champion for the eighth-straight year.
• Five of those champions in the last eight years – Mid-America Christian, Dalton State (Ga.), Vanguard (Calif.), Pikeville (Ky.) and Rocky Mountain (Mont.) – were winners for the first time in school history.
• The overtime finish is the first such in the national title game since 2011 – Pikeville defeating Mountain State (W.Va.), 83-76.
• This is the first championship game to have a winner score at least 100 points since 1971 when Kentucky State triumphed over Eastern Michigan, 102-82.
• The 199 combined points scored by both teams is the highest total in the 79-year history of the championship.
• No. 1 Georgetown failed to become the first top seed to win the title since Mountain State (W.Va.) did so in 2002.
Dii'jon Allen-Jordan, Campbellsville University (Ky.)
Sekou Harris, Campbellsville University (Ky.)
Nick Syrie, MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.)
Justin Randall, MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.)
Joe Jackson, Our Lady of the Lake University (Texas)
Devonse Reed, Mid-America Christian University (Okla.)
Bryon Miller, Mid-America Christian University (Okla.)
Deondre McWhorter, Georgetown College (Ky.)
Noah Cottrill, Georgetown College (Ky.)
Tony Kimbro, Georgetown College (Ky.)
Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player Award: Devonse Reed, Mid-America Christian (Okla.)
Charles S. Stevenson Hustle Award: Zach Taylor, Carroll (Mont.)
Dr. James Naismith-Emil S. Liston Sportsmanship Award: Mid-America Christian (Okla.)
Charles A. Krigel Award*: Josh Gamblin, Mid-America Christian (Okla.)
Chuck Walden Memorial Trophy (given to Honorary Coaches of championship team): Liston Insurance
Frank Cramer Award^: John Mulvihill
2015 - 16 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Player of the Year: Deondre McWhorter, Georgetown (Ky.)
2015 - 16 Rawlings-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coach of the Year: Josh Gamblin, Mid-America Christian (Okla.)
* given to coach of the team that best exhibits respect, civility, integrity and fair play, the qualities that define sportsmanship
^ presented annually to the person or persons who has done the most for the basketball tournament during a period of years
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