NAIA Tournament

Mount Vernon Nazarene defeated Montreat (N.C.) 76-63 on Thursday to advance to Friday's Regional Semifinals of the NAIA DIvision II Tournament in South Dakota.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Mount Vernon Nazarene men’s basketball marked its return to the NAIA Division II men’s basketball tournament in style on Thursday evening, defeating No. 18 Monteat (N.C.) 76-63 to advance to the Round of 16 on Friday.

“Really proud of our guys and their effort tonight. They were tremendous on the defensive end," third-year coach Jared Ronai said. "They really executed certain keys defensively against their personnel. We’re excited to advance and compete in the Round of 16.

"It is a tremendous honor and we are looking forward to the opportunity. Thank you to everyone who tuned in to cheer on our young men!”

The 18th-ranked Cougars take on No. 4 Morningside (Iowa), the top-seeded team in the Cramer Bracket. Tipoff at the Sanford Pentagon is set for 8:30 p.m.

Three Cougars reached double figures against Montreat. Jevon Knox spearheaded the offense by scoring 21 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Teammate Austin Jones chipped in 19 points and Brett Vipperman added 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Montreat got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Nicodemus Payne. Austin Butler had 12 points and Jeron Hemphill notched a double-double on 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cougars led 34-25 at halftime and enjoyed a 42-38 scoring margin in the second half, too.

The win gooses MVNU record to 27-7 on the season. Montreat ends its season at 24-8 overall.

Keys to the Game

- The Cougars held Montreat to 24-74 from the field for 32.4 percent overall, and to 7-33 from three, 21.2 percent from behind the arc. Montreat came in shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from three.

- MVNU shot 29-50 overall from the field for a 58.0 percent, and went 6-16 from three for 37.5 percent. MVNU was also 12-17 from the free throw line, compared to 8-13 for Montreat.

- The Cougars’ defensive effort was especially tough on Montreat leading scorer Austin Butler. Butler, who entered averaging 16.9 points per game. He scored only 12 on the afternoon on 4-11 shooting.

- The Cougars were outrebounded by Montreat 38-37 on the day, but had 35 defensive rebounds to Montreat’s 21. MVNU is now 3-5 when being outrebounded.

- Thursday was MVNU’s first game on a neutral court this season. 

MVNU Ties Season Wins Record

With Thursday’s win, Mount Vernon Nazarene men’s basketball matched their team record for most wins in a season with 27. The Cougars previously reached the mark in 1997-98, 1998-99, and 2005-06.

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