SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – After coming out of the Round of 16 with a buzzer-beating 87-86 win over Dakota Wesleyan on Friday, defending National Champion, No.1 ranked and No. 1 seed Indiana Wesleyan was defeated by No.8 ranked and No. 2 seed Oregon Tech (27-7) 107-93 on Saturday in the Sanford Pentagon as the Owls advance to the Semifinals for the first time since their National Championship victory in 2012.
Oregon Tech will play Cascade Conference rival College of Idaho in Monday’s Semifinal game with the winner advancing to play in the NAIA National Championship game on Tuesday.
OIT and College of Idaho split the regular season this year with the Yotes winning in Idaho 71-68 on November 30 and the Owls winning in Klamath Falls 75-72 on February 16.
“Grit. That’s the word,” said Head Coach Justin Parnell. “Grit and focused effort. We are so happy our guys get to experience an opportunity of a lifetime. Something they have earned.
Mitchell Fink was absolutely incredible tonight. Garret and Matt ran the floor as well as they have this year and really wore down the Maxwell brothers.
We also got huge efforts from Harrison Steiger, Kaison Faust and Matt Van Tassell. Matt was a complete difference maker.”
Wesleyan, the winners of 3 of the last 5 NAIA National Championships, reaches the end of their season with a 30-6 record.
Things looked good for the Wildcats in the first half, as – with a 13-2 run – they claimed a 10-point lead in the first 10 minutes. However, Tech came together and landed four three-pointers to go 12-for-5 and cut the lead to a mere two points.
Junior Mitchell Fink scored ten points to lead the Owls on a 16-5 run to the lead, landing a last-second three-pointer to break a 44-44 tie going into the second stanza.
From there OIT gave no ground to Wesleyan. A 13-5 run opened the second half and Tech held on to take the win.
Fink led Oregon Tech with a double-double, scoring 34 points to take game high honors while also adding 11 assists and six rebounds. Fink shot 50% from long range, making 5-of-10 and also went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe. With his 34 points Fink now has 1,514 career points and has moved up to fourth on Tech’s all-time list moving past Matt Foster and Bob Townsend. Fink also moved up to second on Tech’s all-time assist list with 639 moving past Greg Regan.
Overall, five Owls scored in double-digits, with sophomore Garret Albrecht notching 16 points and nine rebounds, freshman Matt Van Tassell adding 14, and sophomore Harrison Steiger and freshman Kaison Faust tallying 13 and 12 respectively. Faust and Van Tassell each shot 3-for-4 from long range and Faust grabbed seven boards.
Joel Okafor led the Wildcat effort with 25 points, followed closely by Kyle Mangas with 24. Grant Smith notched another 18 and added eight assists, and Evan Maxwell tallied 16 points.
Tech had a 13-7 advantage from long range, shooting 54.2% and holding Indiana Wesleyan to just 29.2%.
The Owls also took a game-changing 45-10 advantage from their bench.
OIT held a 44-29 rebounding advantage and a 19-15 assisting edge.
The Hustlin’ Owls will continue to the semifinals, playing No. 2 seeded College of Idaho on Monday night at 4:00 pm (Pacific) in the Sanford Pentagon. Monday’s game will be broadcast locally on 92.5 KLAD-FM with Bobby Thompson and Michael Garrard on the call. The Justin Parnell Coaches Show will start at 3:30 pm with the opening tip to follow.