The Georgetown College men’s basketball team is back for more.
The Tigers will play for the program’s third national championship when they take on Mid-America Christian of Oklahoma on Tuesday night in the finals of the NAIA Division I national tournament at Kansas City, Mo.
The Tigers will be playing in their first championship game since 2013, when they won their most recent national crown. Georgetown also won it all in 1998.
Georgetown, the No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament, tips off against No. 4 seed Mid-America Christian (27-9) at 8 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. The game will be broadcast live online on ESPN3. Fans can also listen live or follow a live stats feed.
Georgetown needed a strong second-half performance Monday night to win its 11th consecutive game and reach the finals. The Tigers trailed 48-43 at halftime after Mid-America Christian shot 58.1 percent (18 of 31) in the first half.
After allowing an early basket by the Pioneers’ Nick Syrie, the Tigers scored 10 straight points over just 1:27 for a 53-50 lead at the outset of the second half. Syrie answered that spurt, only to see Georgetown answer with a 12-2 stretch over 4:45 to stretch the gap to 65-54.
Georgetown pushed its lead to as much as 14 in the second half and held an 83-70 lead with 3:20 to play before MNU made its final charge. The Pioneers scored a quick seven points to cut the deficit to six before closing to within three after a transition bucket by Justin Randall and jumper in the lane by Jonas Page.
That was as close as the Pioneers would come as Noah Cottrill hit two free throws with 27 seconds to play and MNU was unable to convert any of its final three field goal attempts. Tony Kimbro and Deondre McWhorter put the game away with a free throw apiece in the final moments.
“We are excited to be back in the finals,” Georgetown Coach Chris Briggs said. “We’ve got one guy who has been through this before. The guys have to work hard, prepare and focus.”
McWhorter, who was a member of the Tigers’ 2013 champs, finished with game-high totals of 20 points and 14 rebounds, making 10 of 12 free throws. Cottrill chipped in with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Kimbro and Darion Burns each finished with 13 points and combined for 13 rebounds.
“We can’t seem to get over this game,” said MNU Coach Rocky Lamar. “It’s the third time we’ve been here and have had great kids every time. You can’t lose focus against a team like Georgetown for two minutes and we lost focus for about seven minutes and the game was over and you can’t do that against great teams. I thought we did a great job trying to get back in it.”
Page led five MNU players in double figures with 15 points.
MidAmerica Nazarene finishes its season with a 28-9 record.
Georgetown will be playing in its sixth national championship game. The Tigers own the NAIA Tournament records for most wins (65), most appearances (35) and most consecutive appearances (25).