March 11, 2006
Northwest Advances to Regional Semifinal with 66-51 Win Over West Texas A&M
BOLIVAR, Mo. -- Northwest Missouri State (20-9) used a 23-5 run during a 10-minute stretch to blow the game open and cruised to a 66-51 victory over West Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball South Central Regionals at Meyer Sports Center, hosted by Southwest Baptist. Senior Xzavier Gaines, who averaged 7.3 points in his last three games, posted a game-best 20 points.
Northwest advances to the regional semifinal on Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. The Green and White play the Southwest Baptist / St Edward's (Tex.) winner played later tonight (Saturday). West Texas A&M, who entered the game averaging 75.3 points, ends its season at 23-8.
"We are very excited to come out and play like we did," said head coach Steve Tappmeyer, who evens his record to 8-8 in the NCAA Tournament. "We played an opponent we had lots of respect for. Our guys came out with a great deal of intensity and I felt like we accomplished what we wanted to do."
Scoring 10 straight points, including eight from Gaines, the Bearcats wiped out an early 5-0 hole in the early going. West Texas A&M came back to take a 17-16 edge with six minutes to go, but managed just three points the rest of the half. Two jumpers from junior Mose Howard, which sandwiched a runner from junior Reggie Robinson, sparked a 13-3 half-ending run for the Bearcats. Northwest led 29-20 at the intermission.
Gaines posted 10 points in the first half.
The Buffaloes of West Texas A&M trimmed the deficit to 39-28 at the 15:27 mark of the second half, after Northwest took a 39-22 lead. The Buffs turned three Northwest turnovers on three straight possessions to fast-break points. But from there, the Bearcats, who are making their 10th NCAA Tournament appearance, took the life out of any would-be Buffs' rally. Sophomore Andy Peterson's lone basket of the game was the first of five straight Northwest field goals as the Bearcats took their largest lead of the game, 60-37 at the 8:54 mark.
Northwest subbed freely in the final minutes as it received 15 bench points led by six from junior Victor James.
Gaines reached his point total shooting 8-of-13 from the floor. Howard added 17 points and recorded eight assists, five boards and four steals. Sophomore Matt Withers grabbed a game-best seven rebounds. Tyler Cooper was the Buffaloes leading scorer with 12 while Lone Star Conference Tournament MVP Damien Lolar chipped in 11 points and five dishes.
Northwest shot 50 percent (28-of-56) overall and was +6 in the rebounding battle. WTA&M went 41 percent (21-of-51) from the field but just 22 percent (5-of-23) from beyond the arc. There were a combined 11 free throw attempts.
NOTES: Today's meeting was the third in history, the first in the NCAA Tournament ... Northwest moves to 8-12 in the NCAA Tournament having appeared in seven of the last nine seasons ... Northwest gets its first win in four tries when the NCAA Tournament is played in Missouri ... West Texas A&M was in the "others receiving votes" column in the latest NABC Division II Poll (March 7), as it got two nods ... The last time WTA&M defeated an MIAA school in the Tournament was Pittsburg State, 90-79 during the 1997-98 season ... Northwest shot its first free throws with :50 seconds remaining in the first half on Andy Peterson's freebies ... Senior Austin Meyer is one point shy of tying Russ Miller for sixth-place on the school's career scoring list with 1,282 ... The 20 points scored by the Buffaloes in the first half was the second fewest this season - they reached just 19 in the 64-50 loss to Northeastern State ... It is the fourth time this season that Northwest has held the opposition to 20 points or fewer by the half ... The Northwest bench held a 15-6 scoring advantage ... The 51 points allowed is the lowest by Northwest in the NCAA Tournament - Northwest limited Incarnate (Tex.) Word to 56 points during the 2001-02 Regionals.
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