SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Spring Arbor University men’s basketball team put together a statement win with a with an 85-50 victory over Indiana Tech in the opening round of the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball National Championship at the Sanford Pentagon on Wednesday morning.
The No. 2-seeded Cougars shot a blistering 64 percent from the field and 53 percent from behind the 3-point line while completing shutting down the No. 7-seeded Warriors, who shot just 33 percent.
With the win, Spring Arbor advances to the second round of the national tournament and will play Jamestown (N.D.) on Friday, Mar. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
FINAL SCORE: No. 2-seed Spring Arbor 85, No. 7-seed Indiana Tech 50
RECORDS: Spring Arbor 26-7, Indiana Tech 22-12
After a back and forth first 10 minutes, Spring Arbor grabbed control and closed out the half on a 27-6 run. Tom Hamilton ignited the run with a fast-break 3-pointer to give the Cougars the lead. Luke Barber, Brandon Durnell and Jeff Beckman would make back-to-back-to-back buckets to boost the lead to nine, 27-18, at the 8:15 mark.
The SAU defense held Indiana Tech to just two field goals over the final eight minutes of the period.
Payton DeWildt scored seven of SAU’s last nine points of the first half to help put the Cougars in front 44-24 at the break.
Spring Arbor broke the game wide open in the second half. Barber buried a triple in the early moments, extending the lead to 25, 51-26, and the Cougars would maintain a comfortable cushion the rest of the way.
Durnell led all scorers with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting while also adding seven rebounds. Paul Marandet finished with 17 points with six assists and five steals.
Jeff Beckman and DeWildt also scored in double figures. Beckman had 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds while DeWildt added 13 points.
Spring Arbor was red-hot from the field shooting 64 percent (34-for-53), including 71 percent (17-for-24) in the first half. The Cougars were also 9-for-17 from behind the arc.
SAU dominated the glass, out-rebounding Indiana Tech 35-19.
Spring Arbor will Jamestown (N.D.) (29-5) in the round of 16 on Friday, Mar. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET.