In a rematch of a second round game from the 2011 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, the Saint Francis (Ind.) Cougars turned away the Bellevue Bruins (Neb.) by a 61-58 decision to advance to the quarterfinal round on Saturday.
The Cougars were in control from the start, taking a 34-19 lead at the half. The lead grew to 17 points when Scott Kohne opened the half with a basket. The next ten minutes belonged to the Bruins as they outscored Saint Francis 19-4 and were down 40-38 with 10:23 left. The Bruin comeback continued as the teams swapped buckets up to the 6:26 mark when an Austin Bowen basket tied it at 50-50.
Bellevue scored two more unanswered baskets to hold a 54-50 lead with 5:21 and looked poised to pull off the come-from-behind win but the Cougars had a comeback in them of their own. Kevin Dawson converted two free throws for Saint Francis and a three-pointer by Kevin Bloom pushed the Mid-Central College Conference member ahead by one, 55-54. Q Owens eventually sealed it with free throws with 00:10 left for a 61-58 lead and Bellevue didn’t get a shot off to tie it at the buzzer.