Findlay Wins Division II Title, 56-53 In OT
March 28, 2009
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Tyler Evans made his only basket count - and it gave Findlay a perfect season and a national championship.
Evans' long 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer lifted Findlay (Ohio) to a 56-53 victory over Cal Poly Pomona in the men's Division II title game Saturday, giving the Oilers a 36-0 record.
"I had the mind-set that I was going to take the shot," said Evans of his 26-footer from the right wing after taking an in-bounds pass. "I pictured it as catch-and-shoot, but a guy was right on me, so I stepped back and let it fly."
Evans, a senior reserve guard, had scored one point and was 0-for-3 on 3-pointers before his game-winner.
Added coach Ron Niekamp: "They defended Tyler pretty well, though. He took a step and let it fly. It was right out of `Hoosiers."'
The Oilers became the fourth team to finish unbeaten since the Division II men's tournament began in 1957.
Cal Poly Pomona (25-8) was trying to become the first unranked team to win the tournament since North Alabama in 1979. The Broncos overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half, and led 41-40 when Larry Gordon (17 points) hit a 3-pointer with 5:30 left in regulation, capping a 19-4 run.
Regulation ended at 42-42. In the overtime, forward Josh Bostic, the Division II player of the year who led Findlay with 13 points, fouled out with 3:40 left.
Bostic was named tournament MVP.
Evans had scored eight points in the semifinal, all in the second half with two key 3-pointers when Findlay rallied from a nine-point deficit for a 67-65 victory over Central Missouri.
In the final, Findlay scored more points in the overtime (14) than in the second half (12). The Oilers shot 5 for 23 in the second half, and went nearly nine minutes without scoring during a 13-0 Cal Poly Pomona run.
That cut Findlay's 36-22 lead to 36-35 with eight minutes left.
In the overtime, the teams traded leads until Evans, who had scored only one point and missed his first three 3-pointers, hit the winner after the teams came out of a timeout.
Niekamp said he switched the Oilers' play to Evans after Cal Poly Pomona had showed a man-to-man defense.
"I never thought I'd get a chance to take a game-winning shot, let alone make it," Evans said.
Cal Poly Pomona went without a field goal for the last seven minutes of the first half, when a 12-2 Findlay run gave the Oilers a 30-20 halftime lead.
The last Division II team to finish unbeaten was Fort Hays (Kan.) State, which was 34-0 in 1996. Findlay broke Fort Hays' record for most victories by a Division II team to finish unbeaten.
Findlay won two of its last three games in overtime, beating C.W. Post - the only other unbeaten team in the Elite Eight - in the quarterfinals.
The Oilers won the first Division II final since 1973 to go into overtime. They became the first No. 1-ranked Division II team to win the tournament since Kentucky Wesleyan in 1999.
The Oilers held the top spot in every week of the season.
Tobias Jahn scored 14 points and Walter Thompson nine for Cal Poly Pomona, which lost for only the second time in its last 18 games.
The Broncos outrebounded Findlay 38-34, with Gordon grabbing nine rebounds to complete his college career with a school-record 958.
Cal Poly Pomona shot 42.6 percent to Findlay's 34.5.
Morgan Lewis had 12 points for Findlay. Lewis, Bostic, Gordon, Thompson and Central Missouri's Sanijay Watts made up the all-tournament team.
Both teams were playing in the final for the first time.
"I'm really proud of our players," Cal Poly Pomona coach Greg Kamansky said. "This will hurt for awhile, it will stick, but we will look back at this as a great season. ... Any (Division II) team would take our season, I think, except one - Findlay, Kamansky said."