Top-Seeded Royals Advance to Semifinals

Posted: March 21, 2015

By Eric Montgomery | NAIA Media Relations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box Score) No. 1-seeded Hope International shot 51.6 percent from the field in the second half to erase an eight-point halftime deficit and claim a 74-62 win over No. 8-seeded Martin Methodist (Tenn.), Saturday evening in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in Municipal Auditorium. The Royals will face the winner of No. 13-seeded Mid-America Christian (Okla.) and Westmont (Calif.) on Monday, March 23 at 8:00 p.m.

“We are extremely blessed and happy to be in this situation in Kansas City,” said Hope International head coach Bill Czech. “We just really rallied together in the second half. We made a real commitment to being positive with each other. We were really down at the end of the first half and everyone was a little frustrated.”

“The guys took control in the locker room and the coaches said very little. They decided what we were going to do in the second half, led by Matt Green, Carlton Hayes, and Austin Sanford. Their effort in the second half was off the chart and I cannot thank those guys enough.”

Hope International (32-2) trailed at the half for the third time in as many games in the national championship, shooting 32.0 percent (8 for 25) in the first half and getting just three free throws on six attempts. The Royals were held without a field goal for the final 8:19 of the opening stanza, while Martin Methodist scored 15 of the final 16 points headed into intermission for a 30-22 lead.

The Royals’ second half performance was also similar to those of the first two rounds, improving its field goals percentage for the third-straight game after the half while continuing to excel on the defensive end. Hope International hit 16 of 31 field goals (.516) after the break and converted 15 of 21 free throws, limiting Martin Methodist to a 34.4 percent shooting clip (11 of 32) in the process.

Liam Hunt gave Hope International its first lead of the second half at the 14:21 mark off of a putback of a Matt Green missed shot. The RedHawks tied the game on the next possession, but the Royals followed that up with a 14-2 run, capped off by a Hunt three-point play for a 56-44 lead. Martin Methodist got the deficit under double digits just once the rest of the way.

“Our guys fought hard, but came up just short against the top seed in the tournament,” said Martin Methodist head coach Scott Combs. “Hope International is an extremely tough squad and we needed to play very well to beat them. I could not be more proud of our guys, though. They gave it their all in virtually every contest this season.”

Green led the way for Hope International with 21 points to go along with five assists and hit five three-point shots. Kenny Morgan added 15 points, five assists and four rebounds, while Austin Sanford provided 11 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. Carlton Hayes also grabbed 10 rebounds as the Royals posted a 47-35 advantage on the glass.


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