March 9, 2008
No Cinderella; Northwest Wears the Crown
KANSAS CITY, Mo.-Northwest Missouri State won its fourth MIAA tournament championship following a 57-51 win against eighth-seeded Emporia State Sunday at Municipal Auditorium. It's the third time the Bearcats have won the tournament as a No. 2 seed.
Northwest forward Hunter Henry had a team-high 12 points and nine rebounds and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He averaged 13.3 points and nine rebounds in three tournament games. Henry is the fourth Bearcat to earn MVP honors.
Northwest guard Lance Sullivan was also named to the five-person all-tournament team. He had eight second-half points, including two 3-pointers, and averaged 11 points in three games.
Mike Larsen made a three-quarter court shot at the end of the first half that gave the Bearcats a 28-27 halftime lead. Northwest didn't trail the rest of the way.
A 3-pointer by Sullivan gave Northwest its largest lead of the second half, 47-41, with five minutes remaining. He drove baseline and kicked to Henry at the free-throw line for two points on the Bearcats' next possession and a 49-44 lead.
Caleb Tegtmeier hit the last of Emporia State's 11 3-pointers with 3:43 remaining to cut the lead to two. The Hornets were 11-of-33 from behind the arc. Four two-point field goals and 10 free throws accounted for the remaining ESU points.
Eight of the game's final 10 points were scored at the free-throw line. Northwest guard Mose Howard was 6-of-8 from the stripe in the game's final 64 seconds. The Bearcats shot 80.3 percent from the line for the tournament (.803).
Townsend made a tough shot from the corner for two points to make it 54-51 with 22 seconds left. Howard made two free throws with 21 seconds left. Marvin Lee missed a 3 on the Hornets' final possession.
Townsend scored 13 second-half points and finished with 16. He scored 70 points in the tournament, the 10th most in its history.
The Bearcats beat the No. 6, 7 and 8 seeds to win the title for the first time since 2004. The No. 2 seed has won four of the last seven tournament crowns.
Northwest allowed 42, 49 and 51 points in the series. Opponents shot 34 percent and committed 57 turnovers.
Northwest Head Coach Steve Tappmeyer Post-Game Quotes
"We're really excited about the victory. Again, just another hard fought game. We played these guys three times this year and they've all been games that have gone right down to the wire. Just never a game that either team ever separated on each other for any period of time. It was just kind of a bunch of head-to-head plays. If you got up three or four, then they'd get up three or four. We're happy on how we played. One of those we'll go home and watch the tape and figure out how we did it. We're just happy we made enough plays to do it. I'm just really proud of our team."
On Fithian's fifth foul late in the second half…
"I think it was big. We talked going into the game that we wanted to be in attacking mode the whole time. They really have a nice team and guys that create matchup problems, but we didn't feel like they were really deep. They were playing the same people and we felt like we needed to continue to go at them and get somebody in foul trouble, whoever it was. When he went out it definitely was a factor in the game. He's a real presence in there defensively."
On forcing 19 turnovers against a team that doesn't pass much inside…
"We changed up things a little bit and tried to really, on ball screens, come hard and trap Townsend. I think we were able to get some stuff going early where we got some steals and created some turnovers. We turned it back over several times, but I thought for the most part our intensity, defensively, was pretty good. We held a pretty good offensive basketball team to 51 points."
On Northwest sweeping the MIAA tournament…
"Somebody said it's kind of like the Olympics - we do it every four years."
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