KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It took an extra five minutes, but it was well worth the wait, as No. 5 Graceland (Iowa) defeated No. 4 LSU Alexandria (La.), 83-80, in overtime to claim the programs first-ever Division I men’s basketball national title.
The Yellowjackets’ Justin Harley connected on the game-winner as time expired in the final game of the 2018 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship.
“We are so proud of our student-athletes but this is much bigger than just basketball,” Graceland head coach Craig Doty said. “This is about a university, a community, and an alumni base coming together and celebrating what higher education is all about. This roster was built organically, with a vision for those who care about each other, accept coaching, and want to be a part of a family environment.”
Will Nelson – a Kansas City native – scored a team-high and career-best 30 points to lead the Yellowjackets. The junior forward ended the game 12-for-21 from the field, including a 4-of-5 effort from long range. He also added 12 rebounds – one board shy of tying a season-high.
Peru State, who lost to LSU Alexandria in the second round of the tournament after beating #1 The Master’s in the first round, had a 2-1 record vs. Graceland this season. The Bobcats beat the Yellowjackets, 76-74, in Lamoni, IA on Jan. 10 and again in Peru on Feb. 17, 88-80. Graceland defeated Peru State in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament Championship, 95-68, in Lamoni on March 5.
The 81st annual national championship took place at Municipal Auditorium.
2018 NAIA DIVISION I MEN’S BASKETBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AWARDS
Stevie Clark, LSU Shreveport (La.)
Shadell Millinghaus, Georgetown (Ky.)
Terrell Thompson, William Penn (Iowa)
JC Washington, William Penn (Iowa)
Will Nelson, Graceland (Iowa)
Jeremy Deemer, Graceland (Iowa)
LT Davis, Graceland (Iowa)
Will Claiborne, LSU Alexandria (La.)
Jordin Williams, LSU Alexandria (La.)
Brandon Moss, LSU Alexandria (La.)
Chuck Taylor MVP: LT Davis, Graceland (Iowa)
Charles S. Stevenson Hustle Award: Dom Robinson, Montana Western
Dr. James Naismith-Emil S. Liston Team Sportsmanship Award: Montana State-Northern
Chuck Walden Memorial Award: Scott Thompson and Julia Robinson, Tricension
NABC Division I Player of the Year: Ryan Imhoff, Carroll (Mont.)
NABC Coach of the Year: Craig Doty, Graceland (Iowa)