POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – The Union College Bulldogs used a stifling defensive effort to get past No. 18 Northwestern Ohio, 64-58, in the First Round of the 2015 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship on Wednesday morning at Keeter Gymnasium.
The victory was a historic one for the Union men’s basketball program, as it was their first ever in the NAIA National Championship. It was also the Bulldogs’ 21st victory in a row, and their 30th overall on the year, as the team improved to 30-4 on the season. This is also the first time that Union has won 30 games in a season, as well.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said head coach Kevin Burton. “Northwestern Ohio was the best team we played all year, they were so well coached. I was so impressed at how hard both teams were playing, we were both playing to win. Everybody got their money’s worth in this one, it was a classic.
“For a while, it was not looking good for us, but we grinded it out. I’m happy to beat that good of a team.”
In the first half, Union came out and played well on both sides of the floor, opening up a quick 11-3 lead in the first five minutes of action.
But, the Racers clawed their way back in it, as they finally began to make shots.
To start the second half, UNOH continued to ride the wave of momentum and took their first lead of the game at 30-28 a minute into the period. Union, however, wrestled the lead back, as both teams traded back and forth over the first 10 minutes of the second half.
With 8:25 left, Union clung to a 45-44 lead over UNOH, and began a run of scoring that essentially put the game away.
The star of the show all game was the Union defense, who held UNOH well under their season scoring average of 76.8 points per game.
The Bulldogs will play in the Second Round of the 2015 NAIA National Championship on Friday morning at 11:15 EST. Union will take on either No. 2 Embry-Riddle or Friends (Kan.).