Men’s Basketball Knocks Off Top-Ranked Saint Francis to Win NAIA National Championship

POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. -- Indiana Wesleyan University men’s basketball made two defensive stops in the final seven seconds to hang on for a 69-66 victory to win the NAIA Division II National Championship. IWU beat No. 1 Saint Francis (Ind.) after losing to them three times earlier this season.

Game Vitals

  • Score:  Indiana Wesleyan - 69   |   Saint Francis - 66
  • Records:  Indiana Wesleyan 33-5   |   Saint Francis 33-5
  • NAIA Top- 25 Rank:  Indiana Wesleyan - No. 5   |   Saint Francis - No. 1
  • NAIA DII Championship Seed:  Indiana Wesleyan - No. 2   |   Saint Francis - No. 1
  • Location:   Keeter Gymnasium   |   College of the Ozarks   |   Point Lookout, Missouri 

What Went Down

  • Indiana Wesleyan opened the game with six of their first seven buckets being 3-pointers. Lane Mahurin capped the stretch with a 3-pointer for an early 20-11 advantage.
  • The lead grew to as many as 13 as the Wildcats held a 24-11 lead on an Aaron Murray bucket with 8:43 left in the half. The Murray basket capped a 10-0 Wildcat run.
  • Saint Francis got right back into the game with a 15-8 spurt to close out the half. USF was as close as four points until Lane Mahurin capped the first half scoring for a 32-26 halftime score.
  • Kegan Comer hit a 3-pointer to give Saint Francis a 42-41 lead with 13:58 to play. It was the first USF lead since 4-3.
  •  The next two minutes witnessed four lead changes with the final of those coming on a Bob Peters bucket for a 45-44 IWU lead.
  • The next nine minutes saw Indiana Wesleyan maintain a minimal lead that grew to as many as five points. But an Austin Fox basket with 3:39 to go gave Saint Francis the advantage at 62-61.
  • Lane Mahurin quickly answered on the next possession to give the Wildcats the eighth and final lead change of the game.
  • Kegan Comer brought the Cougars to within one with a basket with 31 seconds left at 67-66.
  • On an inbounds play, Grant Evans grabbed the ball amidst contact. He went to the floor and the ball went out of bounds with 19.0 seconds to play. No foul was called as USF had possession down by a single point.
  • Kegan Comer took the potential game-winning shot for Saint Francis but his shot was short. Josh Mawhorr collected the rebound amid a lot of Cougars. He was fouled with 6.8 seconds to play.
  • Josh Mawhorr hit the second of two free throws for a 68-66 lead.
  • Saint Francis rushed down the court and Kegan Comer again came up short as he drove to the basket. Bob Peters got the rebound and chucked it down the court as the Wildcats celebrated. The officials put 0.9 seconds on the clock and said Peters was fouled.
  • Peters hit the second of two free throws for a 69-66 lead. The final heave at midcourt for Saint Francis was waived off as it came after the buzzer as Wildcats swarmed the court to celebrate their second national championship in three seasons.
  • Bob Peters poured in a team-best 20 points. He was 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
  • Lane Mahurin added 18 points and 4 rebounds while Jonny Marlin and Josh Mawhorr each scored 10 points.
  • Indiana Wesleyan shot 34.1-percent (15 of 44) from 2-point range but 56.3-percent (9 of 16) from beyond the arc.

Coach’s Corner by Greg Tonagel

  • “We couldn’t make a stop a month ago. But this team bought in and won a national championship on defense. I am so proud of this team. We weren’t naturally a good defensive team but they bought in and became one just in time.”
  • Heading into the tournament we had the best week of practice we’ve ever had in my 11 years. I loved this bracket and by the time we got out here we were playing so well because of the way we practiced.”

 

Extra! Extra!

  • Indiana Wesleyan and Saint Francis played three times in the regular season with USF winning all three.
  • The Championship Game featured a pair of Crossroads League teams for the first time. It is only the second time in Championship Game history that two league opponents battled for the title. The first came in 2009 when Oklahoma Wesleyan defeated College of the Ozarks (Mo.) from the now defunct Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference.
  • The 26 first half points for Saint Francis is the lowest point total in a half vs. Indiana Wesleyan this season.
  • Indiana Wesleyan improves to 24-0 this season when holding their opponents to 79 or less points.
  • The Wildcats become the first program to win two titles in three seasons since Northwestern (Iowa) did so in 2001 and 2003.
  • Indiana Wesleyan improves to 14-4 this season vs. teams ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA DII Top-25 Coaches’ Poll.
  • The Wildcats had three wins this season vs. teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 this season. IWU defeated No. 1 Cornerstone (Mich.) in the season opener and then No. 2 Davenport (Mich.) in the national semifinals.
  • Indiana Wesleyan tied a program record with 33 wins this season. Last year’s team also won 33 games.

Championship Awards

  • Jonny Marlin was named the 2016 Championship Most Outstanding Player.
  • Lane Mahurin and Bob Peters joined Jonny Marlin on the 2016 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball All-Championship Team.
  • Head coach Greg Tonagel was honored as the NABC/NAIA Division II Coach of the Year.
Indiana Wesleyan University
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Marion, IN 46953

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