KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Playing in the first game of the 2013 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship on Wednesday morning, the Drovers started off strong, but ultimately couldn’t overcome the No. 6 Southwestern Assemblies of God in the end.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” Head Coach Brisco McPherson said. “It’s not because they didn’t want to win. That team is just so scrappy. I’m just proud of our guys. They competed.”
SAGU won the game 62-58 and will advance to the round of 16. It is the first time the school has won a game at the national tournament.
The Drovers return home with a 17-10 season ended. USAO is 10-5 in the NAIA Men’s Basketball tournament.
Shavon Scott earned the honor of the first bucket of the tournament, shooting a jumper to put the Drovers in the lead. After holding the Lions off for two possessions, Jahseth Lloyd scored second in the game.
The Drovers held onto their lead the entire first half. Their largest lead was by 12 about 10 minutes into the game.
After that, the momentum shifted to the Lions, who mounted a comeback to close the gap. At halftime, the Drovers led 28-23.
Both teams struggled from beyond the arc in the first half, each making just three of multiple attempts from that distance. Additionally, each team had nine field goals made.
The difference in the score was at the line. USAO made eight of their nine from the charity stripe, while SAGU made just three of their eight.
SAGU tied up the game at 40 about halfway through the second half and then took their first lead of the game at 10:44 left in regulation on a jumper. The lead changed another five times in the remainder of the game.
The Drovers were plagued with turnovers in the second half. While both teams had 11 after the first 20 minutes, USAO had 27 by the end of the game. SAGU capitalized with 22 points off of turnovers.
Not only did the Drovers shoot better – 40 percent to SAGU’s 35 percent – they out rebounded the Lions 42-35.
“Defensively, we were great. We really competed on the defensive end,” McPherson said. “We had good shots; we just gave them too many opportunities on turnovers.”
Jahseth Lloyd led the team in scoring with 11 points and eight rebounds. Scott had 10 points in the game. Kenneth Durham and Zach Lewis each had nine points.
It was the Drovers’ first trip to the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship since their back-to-back appearances in 2008 and 2009.