POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - The 19th-ranked Marian University men's basketball team was unable to pull off the upset in a 62-54 defeat to the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Northwood University (Fla.) in the sweet sixteen of the 21st annual NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship in Point Lookout, Mo., on Friday evening.
The Knights close the 2011-12 season with a 20-11 overall record, while Northwood heads to the final eight with a 32-3 mark.
Junior Aaron Evans
led the Knights with a team-high 20 points to surpass 1,000 points in his 58 games in a Marian University uniform. He is the 33rd Knight to hit the milestone and is the second in 2011-12. He now has 1,471 career points with 1,002 coming in an MU uniform. He also had a game-high four assists and had two steals. His 598 points in 2011-12 is the third-highest single-season total in Marian University history.
Senior Alex Sylvester
finished with 17 points and team-high seven rebounds in his final collegiate game. Sylvester finished his career as the program's all-time leader in steals, as the single-season steals leader and ranked 15th on the all-time scoring list.
The Seahawks used a strong first half after they jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead, 33-18, by holding the Knights to just 31 percent from the field (8-for-26). The Knights could get very little going in the first half as they ran into as complete a team as they have seen. However, the second half was much different.
Northwood was able to push the lead to 20 twice early in the second half, but the Knights battled back. With the score 45-26 and 14:18 on the clock, senior Jake Sullivan
hit a layup to spark a 17-4 run over the next 5:26 that cut the lead to six at 49-43 with 8:52 remaining. NU's Thierno Agne hit a 3-pointer to spark a 7-0 NU run that pushed the lead back to 13, 56-43, with 6:44 to go.
The Knights were able to trim it back to nine twice over the final six minutes and Evans hit a jumper with 31 seconds to go to cut the lead to eight, 62-54, and that is how it would end.
MU out-scored the Seahawks by a 36-29 margin in the second half, but the 15-point halftime deficit was insurmountable against the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.
The Knights closed a remarkable season with 36-year head coach John Grimes
' seventh 20-win season, a third-place finish in the Mid-Central College Conference, their first trip and win at the national tournament since 2003-04 and had two players surpass the 1,000-point plateau for their careers.