For the Friends men to be successful in Thursday’s NAIA Division II Tournament opener against Northwood (Fla.), it simply comes down to this:
“We have to shoot well,” Friends coach Dale Faber said. “It’s going to come down to second-chance points and making stops.”
Sure, Friends has the nation’s leading scorer in senior guard Joe Mitchell (32.7 points), but Northwood (26-6) has some tough defenders. The game is at 1:45 p.m. in Point Lookout, Mo.
“I expect Joe to draw more than the normal amount of attention,” Faber said.
The Falcons (25-6), who lead the nation in field-goal percentage (52.4 percent), will face a Seahawks team ranked in the top five in field-goal percentage defense and which outrebounds opponents by an average of more than 10 a game.
“They’re a beast on the glass,” Faber said. “Everybody plays their role well.
“We’ve been rebounding by flying in and going after the ball. (Today), we’ll have to deliver the first hit or stay out of the way of the first hit.”
The Seahawks also have a coach with an NCAA championship ring, Rollie Massimino, who took Villanova to the 1985 national title.
“They’ve got a famous coach and some soon-to-be famous players,” Faber said. “They’re stacked full and will be tough.”
It has been nearly 30 years since Massimino, 79, won the NCAA title, but Faber said his coaching skills haven’t diminished.
“He’s 79, but he’ll give you 79 different looks on defense,” Faber said. “It’s similar to what he did at Villanova: He’ll go from man-to-man to zone, then zone to man-to-man, using traps, no traps.
“He throws the book at you.”
None of Friends’ opponents compares to Northwood, Faber said.
“We played the sixth-toughest schedule in the country,” he said, “but we haven’t faced a team like this.
“They’re big and powerful, they have kids that can shoot it and a point guard that’s always driving the lane.”
Friends is making its first NAIA tourney appearance since 2010.
“That’s one thing about March Madness,” Faber said. “It made me mad because we weren’t playing.”
Jordan Hobbs’ basket with 5:58 to play was Southwestern’s last two points. The Moundbuilders led 62-57 at the time, then scored five free throws and held off Eastern Oregon, which had a last possession to tie or win but didn’t get a shot off.
Jana Reichenberger had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Southwestern (29-4), while Zefiryn Bryan had 14 points and seven rebounds. Southwestern will play Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the second round.
Halftime — Southwestern 31-26. Three-pointers — E. Oregon 6-30 (Newcome 3-15, Redd 2-9, Parrish 1-4, Hill 0-1, Osborne 0-1), Southwestern 3-17 (Bryan 1-2, Hobbs 1-3, Tennyson 1-5, Rickey 0-1, Zoglmann 0-2, Hobbs 0-2, Shaffer 0-2). Rebounds — E. Oregon 43 (Redd 11), Southwestern 45 (Reichenberger 8). Assists — E. Oregon 5 (Moss 2), Southwestern 4 (Rickey, Zoglmann, Hobbs, Shaffer). Fouls — E. Oregon 21, Southwestern 16. A—650.