Sioux Falls, S.D. (Box Score) – Shooting better than 70% in the first half, No. 2 University of Saint Francis (Ind.) opened up a commanding 24-point lead and held off a second half surge to defeat No .1 Cornerstone (Mich.) 90-79 in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Cypress Risk Management.
Saint Francis advances to play in its fourth national semifinal, all since the 2010 season and third under current head coach Chad LaCross. The Cougars improve to 4-3 all-time in the quarterfinal round and run their season record to 28-8.
The highly-efficient Cougars shot 73% in the first half, a perfect 5-for-5 from the three-point line, to open up a 52-28 halftime lead. With the scored tied at 11, Saint Francis outscored Cornerstone 41-17 over the final 15-minutes, led by play-making point guard Derek Hinen who scored 16 points in the first half.
Saint Francis seemingly put the game out of hand, building up a 27-point advantage early in the second half. Cornerstone, behind its outstanding senior Kyle Steigenga, made it an eight-point game with 2:07 left, after two separate runs (14-2 and 10-4), finished off with a Steigenga jumper in the lane.
USF scored seven of the next nine points and went 10-for-12 from the free throw line to secure the win.
Bryce Linehoop (8/12 FG) and Connor Lautzenheiser both scored 23 points, with Linehoop dominating on the inside and Lautzenheiser having the hot hand from the perimeter, draining five three-pointers. Hinen scored 22 to go with four assists. USF shot 60% for the game.
Steigenga closed his brilliant career with a 27-point, eight-rebound effort, breaking both the scoring and rebounding record at the D-II Championship in this game. Steigenga, with 328 points, broke the scoring record, held by Brandon Woudstra (Northwestern-2000-03), and surpassed the rebounding mark with 135, held by Chad Schuiteman (Northwestern-2005-08). The senior also scored his 3,000th-career point with a basket in the first half and is the all-time leading scorer in the state of Michigan with 3,023.
Sam Vander Sluis tallied another double-double for Cornerstone (15pts, 11 rebounds) and Michael Bradshaw scored 17 in his final game as a Golden Eagle. Cornerstone ends the season with a 30-5 record.
Saint Francis will play the winner of No. 1 College of Idaho / No. 6 Marian (Ind.) in Monday’s semifinal at 8pm.