Try figuring these NAIA title game oddities
SAGU comes up 'short' down the stretch
Stats that normally assure victories were overlooked
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The warmth of the afterglow from the men’s basketball season is still being felt, with post-season honors and reviews capping a blessed season for Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
By finishing 33-5, the Lions stirring run to the NAIA national championship game won hearts, fans and the respect of countless observers.
Still, the title game loss to the winningest team in the history of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Kentucky’s Georgetown College, was both fulfilling and unsatisfying.
It left Lion Nation hungry for more. An ascending team would love to feast from the top spot next spring.
Georgetown (28-8, 14-6 in conference games) was third in the 11-team Mid-South Conference behind no. 2 ranked Lindsey Wilson College (32-5, 16-4 in MSC) and the University of Pikeville (26-7, 15-5).
All of them played in the City of Fountains, with the Lions eliminating Wilson, 80-64, and LSU-Shreveport edging the Pike, 91-87.
A day after rolling past Lindsey Wilson, the Lions' 4-0 magical run came to an end in the final, 88-62.
Georgetown went 0-2 against Wilson and 2-3 versus U-Pike.
There were some amazing oddities that transpired in the game. When analyzed, they reveal much about the outcome was an aberration. How many did you notice?
One of the Top 10 offensive rebounding teams in the nation, SAGU, despite being doubled in total rebounds, held a 20-15 advantage on the offensive glass.
How many times this season did the Lions, who averaged 15.6 per game (third nationally), collect 20 offensive boards? Eight. How many times did they lose in those games? One, to Georgetown.
In comparison, how often did the Lions surrender more offensive caroms than they did? Again, just eight times in 38 contests. Even when opponents collected more offensive boards, only once did the Lions lose. Once.
Near Mistake-Free Basketball
SAGU committed a season-low five turnovers in the game, none in the second half. How many times did they make less than 10 in a game? Twice. Did they lose those games? Once, the championship game.
Ironically, while the Lions turnover ratio (turnovers committed vs. number of opponents’ turnovers forced) is among the nation’s best, Georgetown ranked 101st of 102 teams. In the title game the Purple & Gold squeezed the Tigers into 24 turnovers, a whopping +19.
How many games did SAGU make fewer turnovers than their opponent? 23 times. Did the Lions lose any of those games? One, against Georgetown.
In fact, SAGU drove the opposition into 24 or more turnovers on nine occasions, leading to victory every time except one. The title game.
Getting More Shots
The Lions punch the time clock and work vigorously for offensive boards. Combined with a defense that ranks ninth in steals and fourth in field goal percentage, they often finish with more shot attempts than their foes. More shots leads to more points.
During the season the Lions fired over 70 shots in 11 games, and they unloaded 80+ another five times. Against the Tigers they held their largest ratio in shots attempted to the opponents’ tries, a whopping 84-55 (+29).
Only once did the Purple Pride lose when they controlled this area. In the final.
Though often shorter than their foes, SAGU was outrebounded just 13 times in 38 games. It resulted in four of their five defeats.
Battle for the Boards
In terms of getting dominated on the glass, only twice did the Lions allow an opponent to have a +10 advantage in boards. Martin Methodist College (Tenn) at the NAIA nationals (+17) and Georgetown, who held an abnormal (+30) lion’s share in rebounds.
It was due to the Tigers superior size combined with ice-cold shooting by SAGU as well as the way the game was called. Officials allowed physical play, which didn’t favor the Lions. In their defense, striped shirts were fair in foul totals.
The Red River Athletic Conference calls more fouls, by far, than any league in the nation. Nine of the NAIA’s Top 20 teams who draw the most citations are from the RRAC.
Huge advantages in shots, offensive rebounds and turnovers most always spell a victory; when combined, often a large one, were incongruent on Tuesday.
While they spoke very favorably about the Lions’ effort, they could not offset SAGU’s chilly shooting.
The Lions connected on just 29% of their 84 shots while the Tigers made good on 58% of their 55 tries. During the bright lights of the championship, the teams were unseasonably cold/hot.
Added to their control of the backboards, Georgetown owned a 20-6 margin in free throws made.
In the end the Tigers, enjoying their 22nd straight trip to the tournament, pulled away from a 47-40 lead with twelve minutes to play to earn the crown over the young and talented new kids on the block.
Georgetown has played in 32 NAIA nationals, making it to the finals just five times. No wonder six-foot-nine Martavious Marc did a series of backflips at midcourt when the final buzzer sounded.
The most difficult tournament in all of college basketball, five games in seven days, is such a demanding test. The Tigers annually make the effort for another shot for the title. To the victors go the spoils.
SAGU has an impressive core of very capable hoopsters set to return, making an encore worth the work.
It was a finish that didn’t go as planned in a season that went further than many fans ever thought possible.
A coronation for the Jungle Kings awaits.
Special Thanks: Contributing Research by SAGU senior, Brenden Kowalski