POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - A Tyrone Gordon, Jr. tip-in with 31 seconds left lifted Dakota State (S.D.) past St. Thomas (Fla.) 61-60 in the 'Sweet Sixteen' round of the 2013 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Basketball Championships at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks. The Trojans earned the final spot into Saturday's quarterfinal round for the first time since 1992.
Trailing by one point with a minute to go, Dakota State missed on a couple of go-ahead chances before Gordon broke free underneath and tipped the game-winner with 31 seconds left. With plenty of time remaining, St. Thomas worked the ball around but missed a pair of open looks and a last-ditch three-pointer fell short which sent Dakota State in a celebration at mid-court.
Neither team was able to pull away early in a highly competitive first-half of play. Down five, DSU scored 12 straight points to pen up a 23-16 lead.
At 23-22, the Trojans used another 7-0 run to extend their lead to 30-22 with 2:18 left before intermission. St. Thomas scored the final five points of the first-half to get within three points, 30-27, at the break.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first twenty minutes of the game. The Trojans shot 39.1 percent (9-for-23) from the field compared to the Bobcats' 37.5 percent (12-for-32). DSU converted 10 free-throws in 13 attempts (76.9 percent) while STU was 3-for-5 from the free-throw line (60 percent).
The lead was never more than six in a very close second half.
The Bobcats were held to no field goal in the final 4:01 of the game.
DSU shot 48.1 percent in the second-half (13-for-27) compared to STU's 36.7 percent (11-for-30).
Luke Lamb led the Trojans with 14 points. He was 6-for-11 from the field, including 2-for-4 from the 3-point line. Cameron Krump added 11 points off the bench on his 5-for-8 shooting from the field. Gordon, Jr. scored nine points. John Lamb and Marcus Smith each had eight points.
Krump, Gordon, and John Lamb earned five rebounds for Dakota State.
Gordon, Jr. dished out three assists for the Trojans. John Lamb and Smith each had two assists.
Reserve Davorn Bryant shot 8-for-16 from the field to earn 16 points for St. Thomas. Kevin Hincapie added 14 points. Demonte' Simpson scored 12 points.
John Nunnally grabbed seven rebounds for the Bobcats. Six STU players each had one assist.
Dakota State shot 44 percent overall from the field (22-for-50). The Trojans were 5-for-20 from the 3-point range (25 percent). St. Thomas was held to just 37.1 percent (23-for-62) and 21 percent (4-for-19) from the 3-point arc.
Dakota State won their fifth straight game and recorded their 10th victory in the last 12 games. The Trojans extended their school record 24 wins (24-9 currently overall record). DSU improved their record to 5-4 against ranked teams in the NAIA's 'Top 25'.
The Trojans are 7-0 this season in games that are decided by four points or less.
St. Thomas, a member of The Sun Conference, ended their season with a 21-12 overall record.
Making just its third championship appearance, Dakota State advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time. DSU will play Grace (Ind.) in the final game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The 32-team, single elimination tournament concludes Tuesday, March 12 with the championship game to tip-off at 8 p.m.
The NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament quarterfinals' schedule for Saturday is set. The first game kicks off with the top-seed William Penn (Iowa) facing Midland (Neb.) at 1 p.m. At 3 p.m., the second-seed Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) plays No. 10 seed Dordt (Iowa). The host-team College of the Ozarks takes on No. 11 seed Indiana Southeast at 5 p.m. In the final quarterfinal game of the day, Dakota State takes on Grace (Ind.) at 7 p.m. All games will be at the Keeter Gymnasium.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director