KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The No. 15 Carroll College Fighting Saints men’s basketball team is on the road to redemption after falling in the 2019 NAIA national tournament championship game and is well on its way after upsetting the No. 2 William Penn Statesmen 85-62 on Friday night.
Despite being down by eight points on two separate occasions in the first half, the Fighting Saints' offense came alive down the stretch, leading to a 13-1 run in the late stages to put themselves in the driver’s seat at 40-30.
That run was highlighted by an Ifeanyi Okeke block that turned into a Shamrock Campbell 3-pointer to give the Saints the lead at 26-25. From there Dennis Flowers III and Jovan Sljivancanin took over, scoring a little over half of the Fighting Saints’ first-half points with 22 combined.
To open the second half, the Statesmen showed some life, pulling off a 5-0 run to open the frame, but the Fighting Saints shut down their momentum quickly as the offense went back to work.
Carroll College maintained a steady double-digit lead for a majority of the second half which ballooned down the stretch with the No. 15 Fighting Saints upsetting the No. 2 William Penn Statesmen 85-62.
Sljivancanin finished the night with a game-high 20 points and five rebounds, Flowers posted 19 points with four assists and three rebounds, and Campbell put together a solid performance of 15 points, two rebounds and two assists.
Carroll College, a young team to begin with, also saw substantial contributions from its freshman corps. Murat Gozelocak logged 21 minutes for the Fighting Saints on Friday night, contributing seven points and six rebounds, while Gui Pedra played for a little over 18 minutes with five points and two steals.
The first round of the NAIA men’s basketball tournament was full of upsets as the Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6 seeds in the tournament all fell in the first round.
The Fighting Saints will now turn their attention to No. 7 Southwestern Assemblies of God University when they play Saturday night at 5 p.m. MST.