Northwest Missouri St. Wins Third NCAA Division II Basketball Championship
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – Despite all the craziness, upsets and a five-game losing season in Maryville, Missouri, the 2022 DII men’s basketball season ended the way many thought it would return in November. The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats are your 2022 DII Men’s Basketball National Champions, beating Augusta 67-58.
It is the third straight championship – a DII record – for the Bearcats and the fourth in five tournaments. NABC Player of the Year Trevor Hudgins and backcourt mate Diego Bernard have been there for every game. The duo are a combined 17-0 in the NCAA DII Tournament — the DII record for most consecutive tournament wins, mind you — on arguably the most dominant stretch in DII men’s hoops history.
Hudgins played a pivotal role in turning the game around. The Bearcats trailed early, up to seven, and that was largely down to Tyshaun Crawford, Augusta’s 7-foot-1 big man. Whether he scored or drew the double team for the open 3-pointers, the Jaguars controlled the game and led 17-10 midway through the first half.
With Bernard and Wes Dreamer on the bench at fault, Hudgins took over, hitting straight 3s and finding a wide-open Mitch Mascari for a third to take a 21-20 lead. Northwest Missouri State went 18-4 in the closing stages of the first half to open it and would never trail again.
You can’t look back on the 2022 DII Men’s Elite Eight without discussing Augusta’s big man dominance. Crawford set a record shooting 100% from the field in the semi-finals and when you add that he’s left-handed, he’s a handful for any team. The 7ft player was a threat against a Bearcats whose tallest players stood at 6ft 7in, and even without the ball he is a game nightmare, requiring multiple players to keep him at bay and creating chances for the others.
Such was the case in a late 12-2 run that put the Jaguars back in the game. Ja’Queze Kirby (7 points, 9 rebounds) was terrific on the boards and helped lead the Jaguars as they closed in with less than four minutes remaining. Augusta had a chance to close but struggled from the line. One of DII’s best shooting teams had the Bearcats struggling throughout the game, but only went 17-29 from the free throw line.
Northwest Missouri State was able to contain one of DII’s best shooting teams at 36.7% shooting from the field and 26% from 3. The Jaguars were a team that shot over 40% of both throughout the season. The Bearcats also won the turnover battle and dominated the point margin on turnovers.
The Bearcats cemented their place as the greatest dynasty in DII men’s basketball history. Once again they end the season as national champions, winners of the 2022 title.
Courtesy: NCAA. Copyright 2022 WFIE. All rights reserved.
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