Men’s Basketball – Sat, Mar. 13, 2021
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Oh Sweet Victory. Top seed Stillman College scored eight-straight in the first 80 seconds Saturday afternoon and trailed only once in a 72-64 victory over three-seed Keiser University to win the NAIA Opening Round Montgomery Bracket A. The win is Stillman College’s first NAIA Tournament win and sends Stillman (17-3) to the Round of 16 for the first time in the program’s NAIA history. It is Stillman’s second trip to a “sweet” round of 16 since advancing to the 2011 NCAA Division II South Region final.
“We’ve made it to four straight national championships. Now it’s time to get familiar and do the things we needed to win one of these games, and we did. It’s not unchartered waters any more for us. We’re trying to get these guys familiar for that, and get them believing they belong here,” Stillman head coach John Teasley said.
“That was a good basketball team we beat. We missed some shots early, but we played defense throughout the night. We kind of paced ourselves like we did in the past to get some good possessions in the half court. We had some great highlights tonight.”
The NAIA reseed the remaining 16 teams as they advance to the Final Site of the 83rd Annual NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship at Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium. The Round of 16 is divided across two days, March 18-19, followed by the quarterfinals March 20, semifinals March 22 and national championship game March 23 at 7 p.m. Stillman will be the No. 8 seed and play No. 9 seed Saint Francis (Ind.) in the first game played in Kansas City on Thursday, March 18 at 2 p.m. CT.
Stillman’s 8-0 start Saturday grew to 11-2 before Keiser charged back with an eight-point run to make it a one-point game, 11-10, with 15:14 to play in the first half. Antwan Claxton, who scored 19 to lead Keiser, gave the Seahawks their only lead, 15-13, with 13:24 left before Devin Merriweather evened the score. Keiser hung around through the first half, cutting Stillman’s lead to a point entering halftime, 36-35.
It was Stillman’s first time to lead at halftime in a national tournament since the 2016 NCAA DII South Regional.
A 13-3 run to start the second half, including a pair of Ladarius Carter 3-pointers, gave Stillman a 10-point lead, 48-38. While Marko Radulovic later hit a 3 to make it a three-point game, 63-60, with 5:09 to play, Trey Petty, Roger Davis and Merriweather scored on consecutive possessions to work the lead up to seven, 69-62. Davis scored five of the Tigers’ last seven points in the game to finish with 10 points.
One of the biggest differences in the stat sheet were the Tigers’ 2.29 assist-turnover ratio, with 16 assists and only seven turnovers. Stillman’s defense forced 14 Keiser turnovers, leading to 10 points.
Four Stilman players scored in double figures and three Tigers flirted with a double-double. Petty led all players with 19 points and had eight rebounds. Meriweather scored 16 and dished out eight assists. Carter drained four 3-pointers to scored 12 points. Virgil Fields led Stillman with nine rebounds and eight points.
The Tigers locked down Keiser’s last-shot hero, CoreVon Lott, holding him to only three points on 1-of-8 shooting. Claxton finished with seven assists to go with his 19 points. Marko Radulovic and Quinton Glaspie followed Claxton with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Updated March 14, 2021