WCU basketball advances to NAIA Semifinals

By FROM WILLIAM CAREY,

KANSAS CITY – No. 14 William Carey University advances to the Fab Four for the first time in program history as it rallied to defeat the University of Science & Arts (Okla.) 102-98 in quarterfinal action of the 2019 NAIA Men's Basketball National Tournament at historic Municipal Auditorium.

William Carey will take Georgetown on Monday at 6 p.m. in semifinal action.

WCU was sluggish in the first half and USAO took advantage as it jumped all over the Crusaders from the start and built a 37-19 lead with 7:57 to play in the first half. Carey finally found some sort of rhythm offensively and was able to cut the lead to single digits on a 3-point basket by Brandon Cranford (Jr./Louisville) with 3:46 left in the half. However, USAO answered quickly and pushed the lead to 14 points before Dalen Dotson (So. /Charlotte)'s half court 3-point basket cut the lead to 51-40 at the break.

The Crusaders shot just 31 percent from the floor in the first half while USAO connected on ten 3-point baskets and shot 48 percent.

Trailing by 15 with 14:59 to play, the Crusaders started to chip away at the Drover lead. Carey cut the lead to five on a jumper by Javontae McDavid (Jr./Columbus) with 9:27 to play. USAO answered with a 3-point basket by Clay Long to spark a 15-7 run to push the lead back to thirteen at 81-68 with 5:09 to play. The Crusaders dug deep and back-to-back 3-point baskets by Cranford and Cameron Douglas (Jr./Columbus) sparked an 18-5 run that was capped off by Leito Hollway's slam dunk with less than a minute to play to tie the game and force overtime.

In the overtime, the Crusaders took their first lead since the opening minute of play as McDavid nailed a 3 to put Carey up 89-88. USAO retook the lead and built a 95-91 lead with 2:28 to play but the Crusaders had one last run in them. A 3 by Douglas and another by Dotson erased the Drover lead as Carey opened a 100-95 advantage with 18 seconds to play. USAO cut the lead to two on a 3-point basket by Dedrian Parmer with twelve seconds to play but Carey held on with a pair of clutch free throws to secure the win.

McDavid led WCU with a game-high 21 points. Douglas finished with 19 points and Cranford added 16 points. Branden Sheppard (SR/Shreveport) pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds as WCU outrebounded the Drovers 52-37.