KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma Baptist University’s unseeded Bison knocked off the 12th-seeded Griffins of Westminster College (Utah) in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament Thursday, 75-50.
While Westminster centered its box and one defense to stop SAC Tournament MVP Leonard Mosley, Frank Benson went wild, scoring 24 points off the bench.
“He’s the guy that comes off the bench and gets us going,” said Doug Tolin of Benson. “Our guys know how to get him the ball and he knows how to finish.”
The Bison trailed early, 3-0, but Robert Hart hit a three pointer at the 17:10 mark of the first half after a Mike Fraser free throw to give OBU its first and long-lasting lead. The Bison could not pull out to more than a seven-point advantage for the rest of the half.
OBU held a 31-26 halftime advantage.
The Griffins cut the lead to a point, 32-31, with 18:34 left in the game, but the Bison went on an 11-2 run to take a 43-33 lead with 15:01 remaining. Westminster got no closer than eight points from there.
The OBU lead peaked at 75-59 on a four-point Bison possession. Mosley broke long for an inbound pass and was intentionally fouled by Shane Humphreys, who latched on to Mosley’s jersey on the breakaway attempt.
Mosley hit two free throws and Justin Benson scored with a good feed from his brother, Frank, for a 75-69 lead with 1:11 to play.
Mosley finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Robert Hart had 16 points and seven assists. Justin Benson had 10 points.
“We knew coming in that OBU was a team with talent better than its sixth-place showing in its conference. We knew they were on a roll and it was going to be a challenge,” said Westminster coach Tommy Connor. “There have been times this year when we’ve out-played better teams than us, but Oklahoma Baptist is very, very good.”
The Griffins came in as the top three-point shooting team in the NAIA at .444 as a team, but the Princeton-type offense and the shooting abandoned Westminster Thursday.
“I think every one of our guys understood what they were supposed to do defensively,” said Tolin. “They played great on defense. Westminster was 25 percent from the three-point line. I hope we had something to do with that.”
The Bison (25-10) will play Georgetown or Georgia Southwestern at 12:30 p.m. Friday. Westminster ends the season at 23-10.