SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –No. 2 seeded and #8 ranked Oregon Tech (26-7) continued climbing the ranks in the NAIA National Tournament on Friday inside the Sanford Pentagon, beating No. 6 seeded and #22 ranked IU Kokomo (23-9) 84-72 in the Round of 16 to advance to the Final 8 for the first time since 2012.
"Rough start but our guys responded at the half," said Head Coach Justin Parnell. "Our defensive effort in the second half was gritty. Again, our defense created some transition opportunities in the final 12 minutes and IU Kokomo really wore down. I'm extremely proud of our group. They now have an opportunity to play the #1 team with a chance to advance to the final 4.”
The Owls will take on No.1 ranked and the No.1 seed in the tournament Indiana Wesleyan Saturday at 2:00 pm (Pacific).
IUK started the first half strong, following a 10-2 run with an 11-2 to end on a seven-point advantage.
However, Tech came back in the second, going 11-for-2 to cut down the lead before going 15-3 as junior Tyler Hieb landed a bucket and a three-pointer to kick off the run. The Owls shot 50% in the second while holding Kokomo to just 28%.
After gaining the advantage, the Hustlin' Owls didn't give it back as they ended the stanza 46-27 to take the game.
Junior Seth Erickson led OIT, adding 24 points to take game high honors and shooting 4-for-9 from long range. Fellow junior Mitchell Fink trailed just behind with 23 points, while also grabbing seven rebounds.
NAIA's number one ranked player in assists per game, Fink added seven more, tallying half of Tech's assists to lead them to a 14-10 assisting edge.
For the Cougars, Akil McClain led with 17 points, followed by Trequan Spivey and Desean Hampton with 14 each. Spivey added five assists and McClain and Hampton each grabbed eight rebounds to bring Kokomo to a 42-36 rebounding advantage.
Hampton – the second ranked NAIA leader in blocks per game – blocked six shots throughout the game and Antoin Clifton notched 10 points and six rebounds for IUK.
Oregon Tech forced 20 turnovers while only committing 11 of their own, taking a 19-13 edge in points off turnovers.
The Owls also held a 19-15 advantage from their bench and a 44-36 edge in the paint.
OIT shot 10-for-10 on the night from the charity stripe for a 100% average.
The Hustlin' Owls will continue to the Quarterfinals to attempt to upset #1 ranked Indiana Wesleyan, with the game taking place on Saturday at 2:00pm (PST) in the Sanford Pentagon. The pregame show with Justin Parnell will air at 1:30 pm followed by opening tip and play by play with Bobby Thompson and Mike Garrard on 92-5 KLAD –FM.
Quarterfinals NAIA National Tournament
3/9/19 | 2:00 PM