KANSAS CITY, MO (March 14) – The No. 1 seed Grace (Ind.) defeated Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) 86-67 in the 2023 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship to advance to the quarterfinals on Tuesday (March 14) at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. [Game Stats and Box Score]
Grace showcased their dominance with a well-rounded performance. Elijah Malone scored 19 points, including 13 in the first half, to lead the way for The Lancers. He also added six blocks and five rebounds in the win. – Read more: NAIA Men’s Basketball: No. 3 Georgetown (Ky.) knocks off No. 2 Langston, 74-60
Jakob Gibbs (16 pts) and Cade Gibbs (14 pts) combined for 30 points, with Jakob scoring 12 in the first half and Cade scoring 13 in the second half.
“Last year we played the first game and got sent home the first games so this is good. The guys have worked really hard,” a delighted winning coach Scott Moore said.”Being back here for the second year in a row is big difference. It feels a little different.”
Jake Wadding contributed with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, and Frankie Davidson ended with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists for Grace (Ind.), which shot 63.0% in the second half.
Freed-Hardeman from Tennessee put up a fight but couldn’t keep up with Grace’s offensive power. Peyton Law led Freed-Hardeman with 16 points and six rebounds, while Brandon Thomas contributed 13 points, two assists, and two steals off the bench as the Lions ended their season with a 25-9 record.
Grace, with a 31-3 record, will face No. 3 Georgetown (Ky.) in the next round. Georgetown advanced to the quarterfinals after beating No. 2 Langston, 74-60.
In terms of the game’s statistics, Grace’s shooting was impressive, with 61.1% from the field compared to Freed-Hardeman’s 34.3%. Grace was held to 33.3% shooting after halftime.
The Lancers also dominated the rebounds, 40-26, with Wadding leading with 12.
Additionally, Grace scored more points in the paint, with 52 compared to Freed-Hardeman’s 32.
Top performers for Grace (Ind.):
- Elijah Malone: 19 points, 5 rebounds
- Jakob Gibbs: 16 points, 4 assists
- Cade Gibbs: 14 points, 4 assists
- Jake Wadding: 11 points, 12 rebounds
- Ian Scott: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Top performers for Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.):
- Peyton Law: 16 points, 6 rebounds
- Brandon Thomas: 13 points, 4 rebounds
- Hunter Scurlock: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals
- JaQuan Lax: 9 points, 3 assists, 2 steals
- Geraldo Lane: 8 points, 2 rebounds