Kansas City MO – The No. 1 ranked Generals showed once again that size matters in this game, accumulating 50 points in the paint in the second straight game and put five players in double figures as LSUA punched a ticket into the Buffalo Funds NAIA National Championship Tournament Quarterfinals for the first time ever by knocking off #19 Westmont Warriors 81-61 Friday afternoon at the Municipal Auditorium.
The first half was mostly a back and forth affair with neither team leading by more than six points, which Westmont accomplished when Gerald Karczewski knocked in a pair of free throws with just more than 5:00 remaining in the first half to put the Warriors up 26-20.
LSUA answered that with a 13-2 run that put the Generals up to stay as Brandon Moss got three the old-fashioned way with 1:44 to go before the half to make the score 33-28, LSUA’s largest lead of the period. Westmont scored five of the last seven points in the half to cut the Generals lead to 35-33 as the two teams went to the locker room.
The Generals started to break away to start the second half as LSUA scored the half’s first six points as Gilbert Talbot’s bucket made the score 41-33 just 90 seconds into the period. However, the Warriors worked their deficit down to just three points as Westmont started getting hot from above the arc. Sean Harman’s three with 16:20 to go made the score 45-42.
But once again, LSUA found a way to get some distance, scoring nine straight points as a Brandon Moss fadeaway jumper pushed the lead to 54-42 with less than 12:30 left. Westmont would get back to within seven at 58-51 on Gerald Karczewski’s three-pointer with 8:00 left. But LSUA has closed games out well all season, and did so again as Brandon Moss’s lay-in with 4:30 left put the lead into double-digits to stay at 66-55. That kicked off a 15-4 LSUA run that Bradley Savoy capped with a mid-range jumper to give the Generals their largest lead of the contest at 81-59 before the Warriors scored the game’s final field goal.
“We’re excited as a program that we took another step this season in getting to the quarterfinals,” said LSUA head coach Larry Cordaro. “Hats off to the Generals that guarded a Westmont offense that’s not something we see every day. We held them to 61, an awesome win for our program, especially since we pride ourselves on defense and know that championships are won on that side of the ball. On offense, our unselfish guards delivered the ball inside to the bigs down low, on time and let them work. When you can score 50-plus points in the paint, that’s a big key to success. They’re putting the team first, it doesn’t matter who scores, so long as LSUA scores. Now we have to get our guys ready for another tough challenge tomorrow night.”
Gilbert Talbot collected his fifth double-double on the season by scoring a game-high 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Brandon Moss finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Brian Sylvester and Jordin Williams each dropped in 12 points and Chris Vickers capped the leading scorers with ten points in the win.
LSUA (33-0) shot 55% in the contest, including 64.3% in the second half where the Generals hit on 18 of their 28 attempts. In the battle down low, the Generals were mighty, outscoring the Warriors 50-18 in points in the paint while also outrebounding Westmont 38-21. LSUA also had an advantage from those who weren’t in the starting five, winning bench points 38-12.
The Generals now prepare for the program’s first quarterfinal round appearance, where they’ll meet up with the 10th-ranked University of Pikeville. The Bears punched their ticket to the quarterfinals with a 56-51 win over the Columbia Cougars on Friday evening. Tip-off between the Generals and Bears is set 5:30 P.M. on Saturday at Municipal Auditorium.