Park University made its second-straight trip and its seventh overall to the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, falling to Georgetown College 81-72. Georgetown now leads the all-time series between the schools 3-1, each school winning one time at Municipal Auditorium.
Park Head Coach Jason Kline
"I'm not sure you can say this game really slipped away from us. It was pretty close for the whole game. We just had a couple of bad possessions and they capitalized. Once (Georgetown) made their run and we didn't score and had to foul, it's hard to come back. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win and that's all you can ask."
"Every team that gets here (to the national tournament) is good and you've got to play well if you want to win. We came here tonight expecting to win and we wanted to win this game. It just didn't work out that way. It's a grind all year for us just to get here and we're glad to be back, but we wanted to win."
Park held Georgetown scoreless for two minutes and led until the 15:40 mark when Coffey scored for the Tigers to make it 6-6. Xavielle Brown had four points in the first five minutes.
First-Half Turning Point: Down 17-16 with 9:39 in the first half, Brown buried a three from the left wing, got fouled, and hit the free throw to make it 20-17. Park later led by as many as six. Before the run, Park had trailed by as many as five.
Georgetown tied the game inside the 2:00 mark, 35-35, answered by a Surles basket near 1:35, and after a stop, Surles did it again, with 49 seconds left, hitting a jumper after a crossover dribble to make it 39-35.
A Tiger basket from Edson Avila in the final minute made it 39-37, and the Pirates were held without a basket on their final trip, taking a two-point lead to intermission. At the break, Brown had 16 points, Watson 12, Brown and Mitchell had five rebounds each, and the Pirates had forced nine turnovers by halftime. Quan Poindexter led Georgetown with nine.
Troy Steward started the second half with a three for Georgetown to give the Tigers their first lead since 17-16.
Park used a 7-0 run to the 13:56 mark to take a 52-46 lead, answered by a 6-0 spurt for the Tigers, who tied it, 52-52, with 12:23 to go. Park was able to stop the run with a Rutland basket, up 54-52 with 11:16 to play.
Both Brown and Watson were on the bench despite leading all scorers in the middle minutes of the second half, but with both sitting at 16 points, Dalton Rose hit a big three for the Pirates between the 11:00 and 10:00 marks, splitting a 54-all tie to make it 57-54. Brown and Watson were both back by the 10:00 mark.
Poindexter gave the lead back to GC with 8:51 to go, hitting a transition lay-in to make it 58-57, but Park got Brown back on the board on its next trip, his 18th point to lead 59-58.
With 7:00 to go, the game was tied at 62 on a Georgetown free throw. Park made a 4-0 run, Georgetown a 9-0, and the Tigers led 71-66 with 3:14 to go. Poindexter put the game away for Georgetwon with a three near the 2:00 mark, giving Georgetown a 74-66 lead.
The Tigers made 5-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes, and in the same stretch, the Pirates were 1-for-4 from the field.
Brown ended with 24 points, 9-for-9 at the free-throw line, pushing his final career total to 2,074 points. Watson finished with 16, and both Surles and Rutland had 10. Four Tigers were in double figures, as Poindexter matched Brown with a game-high 24.
It's the second-straight year the Pirates have bowed out in the first round after leading in the game, losing last season to eventual national champion MACU, who beat Georgetown by one on the tournament's final night.
Park's 2017 appearance was its seventh in school history and only its second in consecutive years, also making the championship in 2010 and 2011.