#1 Sharks Advance to NCAA National Title with Win over CSUSB

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – For the first-time in program history, the No. 1 Nova Southeastern Sharks Men’s Basketball team will play for the NCAA Division II National Championship. NSU defeated fourth-seed Cal. State San Bernardino 94-87 on Thursday evening from the Ford Center. All five starters for the Sharks scored in double-digits, including Kobe Rodgers led the Sharks to the victory scoring 21 points.

Records – No. 1 Nova Southeastern 35-0 |No. 4 Cal. State San Bernardino 31-4
Score – No. 1 Nova Southeastern 94 | No. 4 Cal. State San Bernardino 87
Location – Ford Center | Evansville, Ind.
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First Half – The Sharks faced a slight deficit but Kobe Rodgers tied the game at 5-5, finishing a tough lay-up and converting an and-one opportunity. Jake Maranville knocked down a three-pointer, putting NSU in front 8-7 over the Yotes. Maranville’s three started a 17-2 run for NSU, putting the Sharks ahead 22-9, and featured five-points from Jonathan Pierre. Later in the half, Pierre and Yoakum each knocked down a three-pointer, extending NSU’s advantage to 33-19. CSUSB, despite facing a double-digit deficit, continued to battle back and sent the game into halftime break with the Sharks leading 48-43.

Second Half – Pierre and Yoakum combined to hit three-three-pointers to open the second half, extending the Nova Southeastern lead to 57-43. A few moments later, a steal by Yoakum set up a scoring opportunity for Ryan Davis. The freshman finished the layup, giving Nova Southeastern a 61-48 lead. The Yotes cut the Sharks lead to just three points, 63-60, with 13 minutes remaining in the contest. Rodgers, in an extremely gutsy performance, recorded six consecutive points for NSU, extending the Sharks lead to 77-69. The next five minutes of the contest saw both teams taking free throws, including RJ Sunahara putting NSU ahead 84-79 with just over a minute remaining. Rodgers found Sunahara, who threw down an emphatic dunk, putting the finishing touches on the Sharks victory. Nova Southeastern closed out the win with Lukas Speidel hitting a pair of free throws, as NSU advanced to the National Championship with a 94-87 victory.

– This is the first time in Division II history that the top two scoring teams in the nation will face off in a championship game.
– This will be just the second time in Division II history that the top scoring team will play in the championship game (West Liberty in 2014 was the other).
– It will be the sixth time in seven tournaments since the reseeding began that the #1 seed will be in the championship game. 
– Crutchfield is the 3rd coach to take two different schools to the championship. (Ron Shumate, SEMO and Chattanooga; Bill Jones, Jacksonville St. and North Alabama)
No. 1 Nova Southeastern, in a storybook fashion, will take on No. 2 West Liberty in the NCAA Division II National Championship game on Saturday, March 25. Tip-off of the title tilt will be at 3 p.m. ET on CBS.

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