KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NAIA) – No. 6-seeded Langston (Okla.) scored the only upset on the opening day of the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, a 78-76 victory over No. 3-seeded Biola (Calif.) in the Duer Bracket on Wednesday evening at Municipal Auditorium. The Lions will play No. 2-seeded Dillard (La.), an 86-65 winner over Oklahoma City, in a second-round game on Friday at 12:30 p.m. CST
Michael Harris led the way for Langston (23-9) with 22 points, hitting all three of his three-point attempts and 9 of 11 overall from the field. Terrell Jones (SR/Memphis, Tenn.) tallied 20 points and seven rebounds, Daryle Morgan Jr. posted 14 points and five rebounds, and Curtis Jones (SR/Chicago, Ill.) recorded 10 points, eight assists and four rebounds.
“This is an incredibly special win, not only for me personally, but for our guys in our program and for Langston University,” said Langston head coach Stan Holt. “To come out here at the National Championship with people from all over coming to this tournament, and for us to not only get here back-to-back years for the first time in school history, but to get the first tournament win in school history is very special. We don’t want to stop. We want to keep moving on.”
One of the closest games of the opening round delivered an impressive display of offensive execution. Each side shot at least 50 percent from the field, made 27 field goals and knocked down 15 free throws.
Langston’s two-point advantage was found at the three-point arc, holding a 9-7 advantage from distance.
Biola looked to be in control during the first half, claiming a 20-11 lead at the 12:12 mark following a field goal by Gonzalez. However, Langston answered with an 11-2 spurt over the next 2:06 to even up the teams. Biola would regain the lead and hold it until the 2:59 mark, as Jones scored on a putback to spark a 9-2 stretch to finish the half with a six-point lead.
The momentum swung swiftly back to Biola to start the second half as the Eagles scored nine-straight points inside the opening 3:04. The advantage would bounce between the two teams over the next 12 minutes before Gonazlez scored with 4:39 left to level the teams at 70-70.
A field goal in the paint by Jones would push Langston in front for good with 4:21 remaining as the Lions limited the Eagles to just one field goal in that span. Caelan Tiongson brought Biola within a point with 2:00 to play, but a three-pointer by Harris on the next possession was enough to seal the win.
Dakari Archer and Trevor Treinen each delivered 16 points and four rebounds to pace the offense for Biola. Jeff Gonzalez added 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Caelan Tiongson contributed eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
“I was proud of the effort by our team tonight,” said Biola Head Coach Dr. Dave Holmquist, who finishes the year with 947 career wins. “We have some really fine young men that have come through this program the past few years and it’s been a joy to have this opportunity. You have to give credit to Langston. They shot the ball well and took advantage of their opportunities late in both halves to earn this win.”
Biola finished its season with a record of 26-6.
Langston – The Lions claimed a first-ever opening round win after falling in the previous four attempts … Langston played its 10th game this season decided by five points or less, improving to 6-4 in those contests … Jones scored in double figures for the 19th time this season … Langston entered the national championship ranked third in the NAIA in three-point field goal percentage defense (.293).
Biola – The Eagles fell to 15-6 all-time in the opening round and snapped a four-game winning streak in tournament openers … Five of the team’s six losses this season came to teams competing in the national championship … Biola opened the season with 11-straight wins and was 22-2 before finishing the campaign with a 4-4 mark over the final eight contests … With 16 points, Archer finished his four seasons at Biola with 1,890 career points.