KANSAS CITY, Mo. —
After a great escape in the semifinals, Monty Wilson didn't want a lot of drama in the title game of the NAIA Men's Basketball Championship.
The hot-shooting Georgetown (Ky.) guard got his wish. Wilson scored 23 points and the 13th-seeded Tigers routed Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) 88-62 on Tuesday night. The Tigers were also champions in 1998.
Wilson, the tournament MVP who had hit a 3-pointer in the final second Monday against LSU-Shreveport to send Georgetown into the finals, could only smile as the Tigers poured it on in the second half.
"We had played a lot of close games in the tournament and we just wanted to blow this one out,'' Wilson said. "We wanted to make a statement saying `We're here to stay.' We did that tonight.''
Georgetown (28-8) had a 28-point lead with four minutes remaining. The sixth-seeded Lions (33-5) , finished shooting just 29 percent. Dominique Rambo led SAGU with 23 points.
It's the second time in three years that the NAIA title has gone to a Kentucky team. Pikeville (Ky.) won two years ago and the Tigers drew some inspiration from what their neighboring school accomplished in 2011.
"I talked to (Pikeville forward) Trevor Setty and he told me to go get it,'' Wilson said.
The Tigers did just that. Wilson hit 9 of 13 shots, including 3-of-4 three-pointers. Vic Moses finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the tournament. Moses was selected NAIA Player of the Year.
Although his team had a 33-10 rebounding advantage in the first half Georgetown coach Chris Briggs wasn't satisfied. The Tigers led only 33-26 because of 16 turnovers.
"The turnovers were keeping them in the game,'' Briggs said. "That was a concern, but we always talk about dominating the glass. We felt like we were playing good defense and would be in good shape if we cleaned up the turnovers.''
In the second half, Georgetown cut its turnovers to eight and roared away.
Allen Thomas joined Moses in the double-double category with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Montavious Marc chipped in with 12 rebounds and the physical Georgetown defense shut down the interior.
"Kentucky is a basketball state,'' Briggs said. "We eat, sleep and breathe basketball and Georgetown College has great tradition. Three coaches before me laid the groundwork for this program and we're just trying to follow along.''
The Lions were down 41-35 when Garel Craig's floater and Wilson's breakaway layup made it a 10-point game with 15:03 remaining. The Tigers gradually pulled away as SAGU struggled to make shots and keep Georgetown's big bodies off the boards.
"Each time that we faced adversity, we found a way to battle back,'' Briggs said. "This team bonded and stuck together. The last three or four days, we just felt like this was our destiny.''
The Tigers closed out the year 20-4 and SAGU could only salute the champs.
"The matchups just weren't there,'' said SAGU guard Caleb Gentry, who finished with 15 points. "Every game before this, we've been undersized but we've found a way to rebound. Not tonight, though. "
Gentry felt like his team was in good shape at the half, trailing by just seven..
"The second half has been our strength all year,'' he said. "We thought we could do some things to be right there but you have to credit Georgetown for the way they kept coming at us.''
The Georgetown players and staff celebrated with a net-cutting ceremony and the Lions - making their first finals appearance - were left to dream about next year.
"We only have two seniors,'' Gentry said. "We're going to be even better after going all the way to the championship game. It's Georgetown's night, but I feel like we'll be back.''