POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – The 2014-15 NAIA Division II men’s basketball season will culminate tonight as No. 3 Cornerstone (Mich.) and No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) will play for the ultimate prize tonight at the Keeter Gymnasium.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6:02pm (CDT) and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3.
Cornerstone (13) and Dakota Wesleyan (7) have a combined 20 appearances at the national championship. Cornerstone is 31-10 all-time at the championship, trailing only Oregon Tech in wins at the championship.
The Golden Eagles have two titles, winning it in 1999 as the No. 1 seed and again in 2011 as the No. 3 seed. Dakota Wesleyan is 6-6 all-time at the championship and this is the first time the Tigers have made it past the second round.
In their only prior match-up, Cornerstone defeated Dakota Wesleyan 64-56 in the second round of the 2010 national championship.
This is just the second No. 3 vs No. 5 match-up in the history of the championship as Bethel (Ind.), the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 5 Northwest Nazarene (Idaho), 103-95 (OT) in 1995. The No. 3 seeded team has won the title four times (1993, 1995, 1996 and 2011) and is 4-0 in championship games. The No. 5 seed has won one title (2014) and is 1-2 all-time in the championship game, losing in 1995 and 1997.
Cornerstone’s conference, the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic, is 2-0 all-time in championship games (1999, 2011), both won by the Golden Eagles. Dakota Wesleyan’s conference, the Great Plains Athletic, is 2-3 all-time in title games with Northwestern going 2-1, Concordia (Neb.) (0-1) and Midland (Neb.) (0-1).
Both teams are among the highest scoring teams at the championship with Cornerstone averaging 84.3 points per game and Dakota Wesleyan 82.8 points per contest. They both rank among the best in rebound margin (DWU-3rd, Cornerstone-4th) and rank first and second in three-pointers made (DWU-38, Cornerstone-36).
No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) set the single-season record for wins and is 32-4 overall this season heading into Tuesday’s championship. The Tigers shared the GPAC regular season title with Morningside and earned the first at-large bid into the 32-team field. They were one of four GPAC teams in the 32-team field.
After earning votes in the preseason coaches’ poll, DWU has been ranked in the top 25 since, climbing as high as third (Jan. 13, 20). They defeated Milligan (Tenn.) 98-55 in the first round, Ashford (Iowa) in the second round (65-49), No. 4 College of Idaho in the third (88-80) and No. 8 Davenport (Mich.) in Monday’s semifinal, 80-51.
No.3 Cornerstone (Mich.) comes into the championship game with a 32-4 record, the fourth most wins a single season. They have won 15 straight games since dropping a 78-72 decision to No. 8 Davenport (Mich.) on Jan. 24.
Head coach Kim Elders is second all-time in wins at the championship (31), trailing only Danny Miles of Oregon Tech with 33. Cornerstone is one of four teams that have won multiple national championships, joining Bethel (3), Oregon Tech (3) and Northwestern (2).
The Golden Eagles defeated St. Thomas (Fla.) in the first round 74-58, knocked off Concordia (Ore.) 97-78 in the second round, eliminated Saint Francis (Ind.) in the quarterfinals 75-64 and edged No. 2 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in the semi’s, 91-81.