By Eric Montgomery, NAIA Media Coordinator
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No. 2-seeded Dillard (La.) advanced to the second round of the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship with a 86-65 victory over No. 7-seeded Oklahoma City, Wednesday afternoon at Municipal Auditorium. The Bleu Devils will play the winner of No. 3-seeded Biola (Calif.) and No. 6-seeded Langston (Okla.) on Friday, March 17 at 10:00 p.m. CST
Demetric Austin led all scorers with 31 points, converting 10 of 15 shots from the field and 9 of 10 free throws, to go along with five rebounds and three assists for Dillard. Jalen McGaughy chipped in with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, while James Morris Jr. added 13 points.
“Well, I didn’t think we were hitting on all cylinders, but Demetric Austin did a great job and Dennis Hightower played great in spurts,” said Dillard head coach Mike Newell.
Despite going 0 for 9 from three-point range in the first half, Dillard (25-7) shot 18 of 33 from the field (.545) in the first half to take a 41-30 halftime lead. The Bleu Devils made a living in the paint, tallying 34 of the 41 points in the lane in the opening stanza as Austin and McGaughy combined to hit 12 of 18 shots before intermission.
The lead never dipped below double digits in the second half, with Oklahoma City able to close within 11 points on a pair of occasions inside the first six minutes. Dillard followed up a basket by Syrus McDonald with a 10-0 run to push the lead to 65-44 and led by no less than 16 points the rest of the way.
Dillard hit six of 14 three-point shots in the second half, with Morris hitting 3 of 6 after the break. Dennis Hightower dished out eight assists to lead a 20-assist effort for the Bleu Devils.
“I’m very disappointed in the loss, but I’m proud of the guys competing,” said Oklahoma City head coach Vinay Patel. “I thought Dillard played really well. I’m very pleased with our season success, getting 20-plus wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season. I’m very excited for next year on what we having coming back.”
Oklahoma City was led by Jonathan Reed with 17 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Tyler Alderman added 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Xavier Smith chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds.
Oklahoma City finished its season with a record of 21-11.