SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – No. 2 seeded and #8 ranked Oregon Tech (25-7) rode a 26-6 run past No. 7 seeded Antelope Valley (16-13) in the first half of their first round NAIA National Championship game on Wednesday night in the Sanford Pentagon, giving them the advantage they needed to hold for the win 75-65.
“That was our best first half of the year,” Commented Head Coach Justin Parnell. “We have followed the scouting report and came out with tremendous energy. I’m really happy for our guys to get out of the opening round. They’ve done a heck of a job this entire season and to see them do what they did tonight was very cool.”
The victory for the Owls allows OIT to continue their bid for a fourth National Championship as they head into the second-round games on Friday, taking on No. 6 seeded Indiana University Kokomo, while marking UAV’s second National Tournament appearance without a win.
After Tech opened the game with a 9-2 run, Antelope Valley fought their way back to tie the score multiple times but were unable to gain an advantage. Then the Hustlin’ Owls went on the offensive – scoring 26 points and holding the Pioneers to only six as they blasted their way to a 21-point lead to end the half.
Junior Mitchell Fink led the Hooter effort and took game high honors with 22 points and four assists, shooting 3-for-5 from long range. Junior Seth Erickson followed with 10 points and eight boards, and sophomore Garret Albrecht notched another six points and rebounds.
The second half of the game saw UAV get more aggressive but it was too little too late as the Owls held on for the 10-point win.
Christian Drayton led Antelope Valley with 17 points and eight rebounds, the only Pioneer to score in double digits. Deividas Mockaitis followed with eight points, and Nolen-Webb Miles added another seven.
UAV played strong – forcing 26 turnovers and only committing 23 of their own – but struggled to capitalize off of Oregon Tech’s mistakes as they were outscored 30-21 in points off turnovers.
The Owls held a 39-31 rebounding edge and a 30-26 advantage from their bench.
Both teams struggled from long range, but OIT took a slight advantage with a 33.3% average to Antelope Valley’s 26.67% as they shot 6 of 18.
The Hustlin’ Owls will play their second round tournament game against Indiana University Kokomo on Friday at 11:45 am (PST). The pregame show with Justin Parnell will air at 11:15 am followed by opening tip and play by play with Bobby Thompson and Mike Garrard on 92-5 KLAD –FM