KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Match Burnham and Matt Wyman combined for 54 points, 15 rebounds and four assists as No. 11 Carroll College raced past Oklahoma City University 80-69 on Friday morning in the second round of the NAIA Division I men’s basketball national tournament at historic Municipal Auditorium.
Burnham was fantastic, particularly in the first half, in scoring a game-high 34 points and corralling a game-high 11 rebounds. The senior hit 9 of 15 field goals and was 14 of 17 at the free throw line to pace the Saints, who won their second national tournament game under first-year head coach Kurt Paulson.
“I’m not sure what to say, other than that I’m very excited for the guys,” Paulson said in an NAIA Twitter interview following the win. “They earned this. I really thought we held our composure, that’s a very good team, Oklahoma City, well coached. They made some runs at us.”
Burnham had 20 points at halftime, helping Carroll to a 39-35 advantage after an Eetu Villa 3-pointer beat the halftime buzzer.
Wyman did most of his damage in the second half as the Stars attempted to adjust their defense to slow Burnham. The former Great Falls High standout scored 20 points to go with four rebounds and four assists. Wyman hit each of his 3-point attempts and was 8 of 9 at the free throw line.
The teams went back and forth in the opening half, with Carroll eventually opening a six-point lead, 21-15, on a Dane Warp field goal with 12:33 to play in the half, but the Stars came back to within two before Burnham hit four consecutive free throws to extend the lead back to six.
Wyman hit a 3 minutes later, but Darrion Willies answered with a triple of his own to keep the Stars within striking distance 29-26. Villa’s 3-pointer as time expired was reviewed, counting as a successful 3, and giving Carroll a 39-35 advantage at the break.
The Saints scorched the opening minutes of the second half with Burnham scoring the first four points to extend Carroll’s lead to 43-35. Wyman’s second 3-pointer minutes later gave the Saints their largest lead, 48-37.
Carroll led by double digits multiple times in the second half, but Elijah Christman’s 3-pointer with 12:02 to play cut the lead to six, then Joe Clarke’s field goal made it 55-51 Carroll. Christman eventually cut the lead to one, 59-58, with 7:17 remaining, but Carroll outscored the Stars 21-11 down the stretch, including a 12-3 run in the final 2:55. Carroll led 68-66, but Dane Warp and Match Burnham helped spark the run to send the Saints to the quarterfinals for the third time in four years.
Warp finished with nine points and two rebounds.
“We’ve been talking about that for months now, holding our composure when it matters,” Paulson said in the NAIA postgame interview. “I was really proud of the guys for fighting through some adversity in that game, holding them off when they made their runs.”
Carroll shot a blistering 53.7 percent from th field, including a 7-of-16 performance from the 3-point line. Carroll also made 29 of 37 free throws (78.4 percent).
Oklahoma City was led by Christman’s 14 points and six rebounds. The Stars were 26 of 58 (44.8 percent) from the field, but made only 5 of 25 3-point attempts.
Carroll College plays the late quarterfinal game on Saturday evening, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MDT, against the winner of Benedictine (Kans.) and Pikeville (Ky.). That second-round game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MDT on Friday evening.