SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Spring Arbor held onto a slim, three-point lead at the half and maintained its advantage in a 66-50 win over Marian in the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship semi-finals Monday night.
The matchup between the two Crossroads League powers had Spring Arbor leading just 25-22 at the half in a first 20 minutes that carried very little momentum swing. After Marian scored the first two points of the second half, Spring Arbor would make its run, scoring 26 of the game’s next 34 points to take a commanding 51-32 lead.
Sterling Brown would hit a three with 2:04 to go to cut the lead back down to 10 at 58-48 as Marian was in pure survival mode, but Luke Barber answered with a three on the other end to send the Cougars to the championship game tonight.
Brandon Durnell led Spring Arbor with 17 points and a pair of assists, rebounds and steals. Tom Hamilton had 15 points and Warsaw product Paul Marandet added 10 points, five assists and four rebounds. The Cougars also held the Knights to just 38 percent shooting and the 50 points Marian scored was a season-low, a game after scoring 105 in the Elite 8.
Marian (28-8) had TJ Henderson lead the team with 16 points and five rebounds and Wes Stowers come in with 10 points. Cameron Wolter and Brown both added nine points.
Spring Arbor (29-7) is playing in its first-ever NAIA Division II National Championship and will get Oregon Tech (28-7), which outlasted fellow Cascade Collegiate Conference rival College of Idaho, 93-81. Seth Erickson paced Tech with 27 points, Kaison Faust finished with 19 points and Mitchell Fink chipped in 14 points, 12 assists and four steals. Four players hit double figures for Idaho (30-6), led by Nate Bruneel’s 15 points.
The championship game will begin tonight, Tuesday, at 7 p.m.