POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. -- Despite shooting a season-low 34 percent, the Bellevue University men's basketball team escaped with a 58-48 victory over Daemen (N.Y.) College in the first round of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship Thursday morning in Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks. Jelani Johnson led the Bruins with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Bruins (28-5) advanced to the second round on Friday at noon. Bellevue will face the University of Saint Francis (Ind.), who defeated Jamestown College, 64-63. It marks the second-straight season that Bellevue will battle USF in the tournament's second round. Daemen ends its season with a 20-11 record
Ousseynou Diop finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. James Parrott was the third Bruin in double figures with 10 points, while adding seven rebounds and two steals.
Bellevue held the Wildcats to 32.8 percenting shooting while forcing 18 turnovers.
Bellevue trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, shooting just 26.7 percent from the field while Daemen grabbed a 29-23 halftime lead.
The Bruins used a 9-0 run to take a 32-31 lead with 15:25 remaining in the game. Daemen responded with five-straight points to surge ahead 36-32 at the 13-minute mark. A Parrott free throw capped an 11-2 BU run to give Bellevue a 43-38 lead at the seven-minute mark.
Bellevue held the Wildcats without a field goal for over nine minutes as the Bruins gained a 48-39 lead with two minutes left in the game. The Bruins nailed five free throws in the final minute to seal the 58-48 victory.
- The Bruins are making their 10th-straight appearance in the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament.
- Bellevue is 9-4 in first round games
- The Bruins own a 19-12 all-time record in the National Tournament
- Today's win marks Bellevue's sixth-straight first round win.
- Head coach Shane Paben is 7-3 in National Tournament games
- The Bruins have won nine-straight games, since dropping a 71-70 contest at Central Christian College on Feb. 3