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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | June 21, 2021

DII Report: Bearcats, Bulldogs and Buffs — A look back at the DII year that was

2021 DII softball championship: day six recap

What a delightfully wild and weird sports year the 2020-21 NCAA DII season was. I remember entering this year with so many question marks. The DII landscape was still very much a work in progress: there was limited football, but no official DII football championship. Only a handful of schools were going to start DII basketball in the fall — almost the guinea pigs to see if this indoor sports thing could actually work. 

But here we are. Exactly 40 DII Reports later... we have ourselves a season to remember. Kudos to everyone who made it work, including a special shoutout to the DII SIDs who were stretched incredibly thin, working in unfamiliar territory and somehow, never missing a beat.

So, sit back as we look back in this week's DII Report. 

7 memorable moments from the 2020-21 DII sports season

Angelo State downs West Texas A&M in its only home football game

The Rams got to play DII football this season, but only one of those games was in front of its Angelo State faithful, albeit in a limited capacity. They delivered, defeating West Texas A&M 21-10 in the first DII football game played this season. It was the first DII game played since the world was shut down in March 2020.

Angelo State's rushing attack was too much for the Buffs to handle. Nathaniel Omayebu, Carl Odom and Alfred Grear combined for 155 yards and three touchdowns. 

It led to the first-ever DII football spring season. Although no official champion was crowned, there were several conference championships, including a memorable one in the SAC, where Tusculum — led by Valdosta State transfer Rogan Wells — defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 28-23.

Northwest Missouri State's run to the DII men's basketball title

The Bearcats utterly dominated West Texas A&M 80-54 to claim its second-straight title and third in the past four seasons. But Northwest Missouri State was involved in three of the more memorable games of the postseason... and it wasn't always on the winning side.

  • Washburn 69, Northwest Missouri State 68: The Ichabods' Tyler Geiman was a thorn in the Bearcats side all season long. His dramatic 55-foot buzzer beater took down the Bearcats in the MIAA championship game.
Washburn's half-court shot stuns No. 1 Northwest Missouri State
  • Northwest Missouri State 91, Northern State 86: This was arguably the best game of the entire NCAA tournament. The No. 1 Wolves had a performance to remember from their elite big man Parker Fox (34 points, 12 rebounds), but it wasn't enough to overcome Trevor Hudgins, who scored 27 of his 29 points in the second half and overtime. 
  • Northwest Missouri State 80, West Texas A&M 54: How can a lopsided score be a memorable game? Because West Texas A&M was a ridiculously great team. The Buffs were making their third-straight DII Men's Elite Eight appearance and had two of the best players in the country in Qua Grant and Joel Murray. But Ryan Hawkins came out supercharged and was too much to handle, scoring 31 points and pulling down 18 rebounds.

DII MEN'S RANKINGS: The final Power 10 of the season

Dynasty established: Lubbock Christian wins the DII women's basketball championship... again

Lubbock Christians wins DII Women's Basketball Championship

This is becoming all too familiar. The Lady Chaps won their second-straight title and third since 2016. While that is impressive in its own right, consider this: LCU has only been DII tournament eligible since 2016 after transitioning from the NAIA. This is truly a DII dynasty like no other before it.

DII WOMEN'S RANKINGS: LCU sits atop the final Power 10

And to add to their place in history, the Lady Chaps completed their second undefeated run to the title during that span. Steve Gomez's squad capped their first title behind a 35-0 record and this year's title run ended a perfect 23-0. While we haven't done a look ahead at next year's top 25, you can put an early guess at who the preseason No. 1 will be.

Back on top: West Texas A&M wins its second DII softball title

Finally. We've mentioned the Buffaloes a few times in this year-end review, but they were on the losing side. The Lady Buffs made sure to get one on the right side, taking home the DII softball championship. It is their second title since 2014.

It got a little dicey for the Lady Buffs. After being blanked 5-0 by upstart Biola in the opening game of the championship series, West Texas A&M trailed 1-0 in the sixth inning of the winner-take-all Game 3. That is until Gabriella Valforte cleared the bases with a grand slam, propelling West Texas A&M to the 4-1 victory. Not a bad way to end the season for a team ranked seventh in its conference preseason poll, is it?

WINgate wows on the Road to Cary

Watch Wingates' Michael Dansky make spectacular diving catch

The DII baseball championship finals had a field with some impressive history behind it. The Tampa Spartans have the most titles since 2000 and Central Missouri has the most wins in DII baseball over the same span. None of that mattered to the Bulldogs, who went from the No. 6 seed to national champions.

BULLDOGS ON TOP: Wingate is No. 1 in final DII Power 10

What Wingate did was no easy task. After falling 6-2 to Angelo State, the Bulldogs won five-straight elimination games, each one against a top-15 program in the country. They took an early 2-0 lead against No. 1 Central Missouri in the finals and made sure it counted. The Bulldogs were first-time champions, marking the first time a SAC school has won a DII baseball championship.

How sweep it is: Barry dominates the DII tennis courts

What a year it was for the Bucs tennis teams. The men went into Surprise, Ariz. and Alejandro Palacios sealed the DII men's tennis championship for Barry, defeating Columbus State's Christian Garay in No. 2 singles. It was the men's second-straight title and fifth since 2010.

The Barry women made it four in a row, defeating UIndy 4-0 in the Greyhounds first-ever trip to the DII women's tennis finals. With the victory, the Buccaneers became just the second program in DII women's tennis to win four titles in a row. 

Barry wins the 2021 DII women's tennis championship

Let's not forget Queens (NC). The Royals were regal once again in swimming and diving. The men won their sixth-straight national championship while the women also captured No. 6 in a row.

🎩 A hat tip to all our champions 🎩

Some were familiar, some were brand new. The one thing they all had in common is they got to call themselves national champions. 

Sport Champion
Men's basketball Northwest Missouri State
Women's basketball Lubbock Christian
Men's swimming and diving Queens (NC)
Women's swimming and diving Queens (NC)
Men's indoor track and field Ashland
Women's indoor track and field Grand Valley State
Wrestling St. Cloud State
Men's golf Arkansas Tech
Women's golf DBU
Men's tennis Barry
Women's tennis Barry
Men's lacrosse Le Moyne
Women's lacrosse Lindenwood
Rowing Central Oklahoma
Softball West Texas A&M
Men's outdoor track and field Grand Valley State
Women's outdoor track and field Azusa Pacific
Baseball Wingate

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