Courtesy: NAIA Office
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Rich Tesmer scored with five seconds remaining in overtime to give No. 1 seed Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) a 69-68 victory over No. 8 Xavier (La.) in the first round of the 2016 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The Warriors will square off with the winner of fourth-seeded Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) and No. 5-seeded Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) on Friday, March 18 at 9:45 p.m. CDT.
Tesmer took the ball the length of the floor, drove through the left side of the lane, and used a spin move to lay the ball off the glass for the go-ahead bucket. Xavier had a final opportunity to reclaim the lead as the inbounds pass caught Morris Wright in stride at midcourt, but his shot rolled off the rim just before time expired.
“I just give our guys a lot of credit, they never quit and they had many opportunities to do so,” said Lewis-Clark State head coach Brandon Rinta. “Xavier outplayed us tonight and deserved to win. The three-pointer by Cammie Lewis late (in overtime) was huge and the play of Rich Tesmer was fantastic.”
Tesmer provided heroics for his team at the end of regulation as well, also driving the length of the court to convert at the rim with four seconds to play. Gary Smith had a chance at a three-point shot as time expired, but his effort bounced off the rim.
Xavier looked to be in control of the game early on after holding a 27-21 halftime advantage and sitting on top by a 53-43 scoreline with 3:00 to play after a free throw by Elex Carter. Tesmer scored six points over the next 1:39 to trim the deficit in half, then Isaiah Omamogho hit a three-pointer with nine seconds to play to make it 60-59. Xavier’s Lucas Martin-Julien made one of two free throws with 8.6 seconds left, setting up Tesmer for his regulation-tying bucket.
In overtime, Xavier got out to a three-point lead before Lewis connected on his only trey on five attempts in the game. Gary Smith pushed the Gold Rush back in front with a field goal in the paint, but Tesmer provided his only three-pointer on the next trip down. Wright gave Xavier its final lead with 1:36 remaining before Tesmer won it late.
“This was a good game against a good team, but unfortunately we needed a couple more plays down the stretch to close it out,” said Xavier head coach Dannton Jackson. “It was a tough loss and some calls did not go our way at the end, but we hurt ourselves by not making free throws.”
Tesmer led all scorers with 20 points for Lewis-Clark State, converting all nine of his free throw attempts. Jacob Wiley provided 12 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and three assists, while Nick Emerson hit a trio of three-point shots and finished with 13 points.
Xavier was led by RJ Daniels with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Wright finished with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. Martin-Julien and Smith each scored 10 points for the Gold Rush.
Xavier finishes its season with a 21-13 record.