KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Xavier Owens connected on two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining in overtime to lift No. 6-seeded Cumberlands (Ky.) to a 80-78 win over third-seeded Langston (Okla.) in the opening game of the 2016 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The Patriots will take on No. 2-seeded Talladega (Ala.) on Friday, March 18 at 9:00 a.m.
Owens finished with 19 points, hitting all eight of his free throw attempts in the contest, to go along with six rebounds for Cumberlands (23-11). Temjae Singleton scored a game-high 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Patriots, while Tre Boutillier chipped in with 15 points and shared game-high honors with 11 rebounds.
Owens was responsible for the first tournament-opening game in the 79-year history of the national championship to go into overtime as he hit two free throws with two seconds remaining in regulation. Langston took a two-point lead with 7.1 seconds left when Curtis Jones was successful on a pair at the charity stripe before Owens drove the length of the floor and drew the foul.
In the extra session, Cumberlands led 78-73 after a three-pointer by D’Lando Carter with 2:29 to play, but Terrell Jones converted a conventional three-point play on the next possession, followed by a jumper in the lane by Mike Harris at the 1:13 mark.
The Lions had a chance to tie the game on the final possession, but Curtis Jones missed a three-pointer from straightaway and putback attempt by Marquis Walters rolled off the rim as time expired.
Langston led 32-23 at halftime after limiting Cumberlands to 27.6 percent shooting (8 of 29) and posting a 28-23 rebounding advantage. The Patriots never led in the second half, but tied the game for the first time with 3:58 to play on a pair of free throws by Singleton, and leveled the game three other times before Owens’ late free throws.
“That game could have gone either way and we just came up short,” said Langston head coach Stan Holt. “I thought Terrell (Jones) did a good job of helping us out on the offensive glass and he almost bailed us out again. It just didn’t fall.”
Cumberlands finished the game 28 of 68 from the field (.412), including a 53.3 percent clip (8 of 15) from three-point range. The Patriots also tallied six blocked shots, three coming from Singleton. Langston shot 37.7 percent overall (26 of 69), but made a season-low one three-point shots on 12 attempts. The Lions grabbed a season-high 50 rebounds for a +10 margin, including 19 on the offensive end.
Terrell Jones and Curtis Jones each recorded 17 points to lead the way for Langston, while Terrell Jones matching Boutillier with 11 rebounds. Mike Harris and Renard Green added 10 points apiece for the Lions.
Langston finishes its season with a record of 25-7.