POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – Grace scored the first 11 points of the game and never trailed in its 93-69 upset win over No. 13 Tennessee Wesleyan in the first round of the 22nd annual NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.
The 2013 event is being held at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks.
The Lancers put up the most points so far at the 2013 championship and also shot a tournament-best 65% from the floor. They went 8-for-13 from beyond the arc (62%) and held a 31-23 advantage on the glass.
Grace held an 11-0 advantage and led by as much as 12 (28-16) before Tennessee Wesleyan went on a 7-0 run to get within five, 28-23. Another Lancers run, however, pushed the lead to as much as 16 before the half ended with Grace on top, 54-40.
Tennessee Wesleyan kept it within striking distance within the early stages of the second half, getting to within 13 (64-51) at the 14-minute mark. Two free throws by Grace forward Dennis William pushed the lead to 20 and the Lancers held at least a 14-point lead the rest of the way.
Bruce Grimm Jr. was among five Grace players in double figures with a game-high 25 points while Greg Miller put in 21. Both Elliot Smith and Karl Columbus scored 11 and Williams chipped in 10.
Tennessee Wesleyan, still in search of its first win in five appearances at the national championship, was led by Tyler Burse with 13 points and Zamarius McLendon scored 12. The Bulldogs end the season with a 25-8 overall record.
Grace, now 22-9, will play either #4 Northwestern (Iowa) or California Maritime in the second round on Friday, March 8 at 5:45pm. The 32-team, single elimination tournament concludes Tuesday, March 12, with the championship game to tip-off at 8 pm.