SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Spring Arbor University men’s basketball team has advanced to the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball National Championship Quarterfinals for the second time in program history after surviving an 85-81 thriller against No. 3-seeded Jamestown (N.D.) on Friday morning at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Trailing nearly the entire game, Jamestown fought all the way back, erasing a double-digit second half deficit, to even the score, 79-79, with 2:16 remaining. Spring Arbor responded, however, with four straight points – all from junior Jeff Beckman – to regain the lead. After another bucket from Beckman down the stretch, the Cougars would come up with one more huge defensive stop, punching their ticket to the tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 1997.
Spring Arbor, a No. 2-seed in the tournament, will meet fourth-seeded Indiana-East on Saturday, Mar. 9 at 3 p.m. ET for a spot in the Fab Four.
FINAL SCORE: No. 2-seed Spring Arbor 85, No. 3-seed Jamestown 81
LOCATION: Sanford Pentagon | Sioux Falls, S.D.
RECORDS: Spring Arbor 27-7, Jamestown 29-6
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Spring Arbor came storming out of the gate, making eight of its first 10 shots, including two 3-pointers, to grab an 18-7 lead just six minutes into the game.
- A quick 10-0 run midway through the period, fueled by five points from Paul Marandet, gave the Cougars their largest lead of the half, 32-15, at the 8:16 mark.
- Jamestown clawed its way back, trimming the deficit to five with under two minutes to play in the stanza, but SAU closed out the half with five straight points to take a 43-33 lead into the locker room.
- Spring Arbor maintained its double-digit lead through the early stages of the second half, but Jamestown began to slowly climb back. The Jimmies used a 17-7 run over a five-minute stretch to close the gap to three, 62-59, at the 9:50 mark – the closest they had been since the 16:55 mark of the first half.
- Marandet took over, however, scoring six straight points for SAU to increase the margin to nine, 70-61 with 7:37 to go.
- With Jamestown refusing to go down quietly, Spring Arbor demonstrated its poise over the final minutes, fighting off every rally. The Jimmies got within three again following a quick 6-0 run, but Tom Hamiltonquieted the hometown crowd with a dagger 3-pointer.
- Jamestown tied the score after a four-point play by Kevin Oberweiser with 2:16 remaining, but the battle-tested Cougars answered immediately with back-to-back jumpers by Beckman.
- After Jamestown cut the deficit to two in the final minute, Marandet found Beckman under the basket for an easy lay-in to seal the win.
FOR THE COUGARS
- Brandon Durnell finished with 25 points – one off his career-high set earlier this season. Durnell was 11-for-16 from the field and 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line.
- Beckman and Marandet followed with 18 points apiece with Beckman scoring 14 in the second half. Beckman also added eight rebounds and four assists while Marandet, the tournament’s assist leader, dished out 12 helpers for his ninth double-double of the year. Hamilton registered 16 points, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor with two triples.
- For the second straight game, Spring Arbor shot extremely well from the field. After shooting 64 percent during Wednesday’s first round game, the Cougars shot a sizzling 67 percent (34-for-51) clip against Jamestown, including 78 percent (18-for-23) in the second half.
FOR THE JIMMIES
- Oberweiser led all scorers with 26 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Terrell Alfred finished with 13 points and Jon Purintun chipped in 12.
- Jamestown, one of the nation’s top scoring teams, was held in check by Spring Arbor. The Jimmies shot just 38 percent in the first half and 45 percent for the game.
- The Jimmies went 15-for-16 from the free throw line.
- Jamestown out-rebounded SAU 28-23. The Jimmies grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 11 second-chance points.
Spring Arbor faces off against Indiana-East (26-8) in the national tournament quarterfinals on Saturday, Mar. 9 at 3 p.m. ET.