POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – No. 2 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) won its first ever national championship, earning a 73-59 win over top-seed William Penn (Iowa) in the championship game of the 2013 NAIA Division II Men’s National Basketball Championship.
Riding a 21-point, 7-rebound performance behind championship most valuable player Darren Moore, Cardinal Stritch went on an 8-0 run to go up 45-36 with just under 15-minutes to. Moore scored the final basket of the first half to put his team up 39-36 at the break and then began the second half with four of the Wolves first six points.
“Coming out in the second half, I knew I had to play better,” commented Moore. “We knew as a team that we could play better and our entire team really came together, stayed under control and played our basketball in the second half to overcome a tough opponent.”
Just like in its semifinal win over Indiana University Southeast, Cardinal Stritch picked it up defensively in the final 20 minutes, holding William Penn scoreless for the first six minutes and to just three field goals over the opening 10 minutes. CSU limited the Statesmen to a mere 22% from the field and 15% (3-for-20) from the three-point line in the second half.
Despite the long scoring drought to start the second half, William Penn kept it close until the final minute. A thunderous dunk followed by a three-pointer by Keith Steffeck put the Statesmen within four, 49-45, at the nine-minute mark.
Cardinal Stritch responded with five straight points, three by Moore including a nifty left-handed hook in the lane to put the Wolves back up 54-45.
A Derek Semenas three-pointer put Cardinal Stritch up 10 and a Tony Smit jumper followed giving the Wolves a 61-49 advantage with under four minutes to play. William Penn cut it to six behind another three-pointer by Steffeck and they were still within six (65-59) on two free throws by Brandon Beasley but CSU scored the final eight points to secure the title.
As they did throughout the entire championship, Cardinal Stritch shot very well from the field, going 50% in the title game. Mike Simpson came off the bench to score 13 points and Jeremy D’Amico scored all 12 of his points in the first half. Semenas added 11 points and seven rebounds.
“Winning this championship is really a testament to our team and the guys that are here,” said Cardinal Stritch head coach Drew Diener. “I am just so proud of our team and what they have accomplished, especially against so many quality opponents.”
William Penn shot a tournament low 32% from the field and just 19% (6-for-32) from the three-point line. Beasley closed out his Statesmen career with a 23 point, eight rebound effort.
The senior finished the tournament with 66 rebounds, second most in championship history. Steffeck added 12 points despite missing most of the first half with foul trouble. William Penn had its 20-game win streak snapped and end the year with a 34-2 overall record.
The first half was very close and featured eight lead changes and four ties. William Penn went on a 9-2 run and led 25-20, its largest lead of the game, with seven minutes to go. Following a television timeout, Cardinal Stritch came back with an 11-4 run, capped by a D’Amico three-pointer, and went up 37-31 on a jumper by Semenas.
The Statesmen mounted a rally and got within one after a Taylor Stoutner three-pointer, before Moore ended the half with a basket to put Cardinal Stritch on top 39-36.
Cardinal Stritch closed out its season with 15 straight wins and ends with a 35-3 overall record.
2013 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball All-Tournament Team
Cameron Mitchell-Indiana University Southeast
Brandon Beasley-William Penn
Keith Steffeck-William Penn
Derek Semenas-Cardinal Stritch
Bruce Grimm Jr.-Grace
John Lamb-Dakota State
Nathane Simniok-College of the Ozarks
2013 Championship Most Valuable Player-Darren Moore, Cardinal Stritch
NAIA Championship Hustle Award-Nick Ford, Cardinal Stritch
NABC/NAIA Division II UPS Coach of the Year-Drew Diener, Cardinal Stritch
Rawlings-NAIA Division II National Coach of the Year-Drew Diener, Cardinal Stritch
Dr. James Naismith/ Liston Team Sportsmanship Award-California State University-Maritime
NAIA Team Champions of Character-Grace