By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Coordinator
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No. 6-seeded Langston (Okla.) recorded its second-straight upset, earning an 84-74 victory over No. 2-seeded Dillard (La.) in the second round of the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
The Lions advance to the quarterfinal round and will play the winner of No. 1-seeded William Penn (Iowa) and fourth-seeded Georgetown (Ky.) on Saturday, March 18 at 2:15 p.m., CST.
Michael Harris hit 10 of 14 shots off the bench to lead Langston with 25 points, including 3 of 6 from three-point range. Daryle Morgan Jr. tallied 20 points and 12 rebounds on 8 of 10 shooting, while Curtis Jones posted 17 points and 11 assists.
“It was an emphasis of ours to get into the paint and attack,” said Langston head coach Stan Holt. “We’ve done a much better job in previous games of not forcing the issues against bigger competition, and that helped us today.”
In what has become a trend in several tournament games, the eventual winning team was forced to dig out of a double-digit deficit in the first half. Langston (24-9) was no different as it found itself down by a dozen points at the 10:38 mark of the first half after a three-pointer by Demetric Austin.
Renard Green canned a trey of his own to begin the long road back for the Lions, sparking a nine-point burst to trim the deficit to three in less than two minutes. After taking the lead in the latter stages of the first half, the Lions went to the break trailing by a point, 42-41.
The teams traded the lead early on in the second half and were tied with 8:50 remaining before Langston took control of the game for good. Jones scored inside and Harris hit from outside for a quick five-point surge to break the deadlock. Myles Elgin added a pair of field goals to stretch the lead to nine at the 7:03 mark, and the Bleu Devils got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Langston did significant damage in the paint, scoring 48 points inside to just 28 for Dillard. The Lions also took advantage of a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers thanks to a 17-5 ledger in giveaways.
The Lions shot 17 of 33 (.515) in the second half and finished 49.3 percent (33 of 67) overall from the field. Dillard posted a 39-34 rebounding advantage that included an 11-9 edge on the offensive glass, but Langston had seven steals to just one for its opponent.
“I thought it was more back and forth, but our guards never could get in a flow,” said Dillard head coach Mike Newell. “(Morris) played well, but other than that, their guards totally dominated our guards, and that was the difference in the ball game.”
James Morris Jr. led all scorers with 27 points for Dillard, hitting 4 of 9 from three-point range and 10 of 16 overall. Austin finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Bleu Devils.
Dillard finished its season with a record of 25-8.
Langston – The Lions are making their fifth appearance overall and second-straight in the national championship, improving to 2-4 all-time…The Lions’ opening-round victory Wednesday night over Biola (Calif.) was its first in national tournament play following four straight opening-round losses…The Lions are one of four Red River Athletic Conference teams in this season’s field and one of two (along with LSU Alexandria) to advance to the second round … Red River Athletic Conference teams are 3-2 in this year’s event thus far… Langston has now won 12 of its last 13 since starting the season 10-8…The Lions are now 5-7 against 2017 national championship qualifiers…Langston came into the game leading the nation in three-point field goal defense (29.4 percent), but allowed Dillard to make 11-of-24 (45.8 percent) from 3-point range…Langston was a single point off its season scoring average of 85.9 points per game…Michael Harris’s 25-point game was his 10th 20-plus point game this year, including his third-straight…Daryle Morgan Jr.’s 20-point output was just the second time he has topped 20 points for Langston this year…Curtis Jones’s 11 assists were a season-high and his 17 points marks the 26th time he has reached double digits for Langston this year
Dillard – The Bleu Devils were eliminated in the second round of the national championship for the second-straight season and now own a 4-7 all-time record in the national championship during their seventh appearance … Dillard entered the contest with an NAIA-best average of 19.8 assists per game, as well as total assists (633) … Jalen McGaughy entered the contest as the NAIA leader in blocked shots, averaging 3.2 per game and matched his season average with three during the loss .. Dillard averages 89.8 points per game – good for a No. 2 NAIA statistical ranking… Dillard has yet to advance out of the second round in the national championship … This was the first double-digit loss for the Bleu Devils since they fell to No. 1 LSU Alexandria (LSU) in December 75-65 … There are now no Gulf Coast Athletic Conference programs left to vie for the title.
Langston ranks No. 2 in 3-point FG percentage (.294) and 5th in field goal percentage (.498)….Dillard ranks 1st in assist per game (19.81), 1st in total assists (653), 2nd in scoring offense (89.8), 3rd in assist/turnover ratio (1.322), 4th in total scoring offense (2,961), 5th in total rebound offense (1,371), 6th in total blocks (141), 7th in rebounds per game (42,599), 7th in FG percentage (.492), 8th in blocks per game (4.219), 8th in defensive rebounds per game (29.938)….Last time a No. 6 defeated a No. 2 was in 2013 when #6 SAGU beat #2 Lindsey Wilson in the semifinals, 80-64…..Langston had only defeated one tourney team this season (Montana Western, 101-95 OT in the Frontier Conference tourney) before upsetting Biola and Dillard this week…..Dillard held Langston to 23.8 percent from three-point range.