KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It was an espresso shot of Chris Coffey Monday to punch Georgetown College men’s basketball’s ticket to a seventh NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship finals game – third under Coach Chris Briggs.
The No. 1 Tigers (32-4) have found different ways to win, all while playing team basketball. Monday against William Carey University, it was Coffey’s turn to get it rolling. He posted a new career-high 32 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the tournament.
GC had to outlast another rally in the second half, but finished off the Crusaders (25-10) 94-83 for a chance for the program’s third national championship against Carroll College. Tip is set for 9 pm ET Tuesday.
Several viewing options exist with the game being streamed on ESPN3. Currently Galvin’s in Georgetown and Molly Malone’s Highlands in Louisville will definitely have the championship game on live. Several Lexington locations are being contacted to see if they carry the channel.
Three of Coffey’s 13 first half points came as he forced a steal with time winding down to the break. He chased the loose ball, picked it up, composed himself and let a half-court shot go. It banked in and put GC up 18 as he ran off the court and to the locker room.
“It gave us momentum as I ran off and my teammates followed, that’s what we do,” Coffey said of the buzzer-beater. “But, being the number one seed out here we know teams are coming after us. We knew the game wasn’t over and they would make a run.”
It seemed easy to start the second half as twice the lead grew to 20, but WCU whittled it down to three with 11:10 remaining.
Enter Dominique Reid. Following a GC timeout up 56-53, the senior scored 14 of his new career-high 22 points with six rebounds and two assists.
“We had good post work, me and Dom,” Coffey said. “If it works, don’t break it.”
Eljay Cowherd had another solid night with 14 points and six assists. He has a tournament-high 40 assists heading into Tuesday’s game. His average of 10 a game is the only player averaging double figures in that category.
Jacob Conway came up with a couple big threes at key moments and helped to chase around WCU’s best shooter in Pleasure Ridge Park alum Brandon Cranford. The WCU player came off the bench for eight threes and a team-high 26 points. Cranford was important in the run that got the team within three, but a mixture of Cowherd, Conway and Joe Burton chasing him cooled him off to just one final deep make in the last 11-plus minutes.
Burton followed up his explosive scoring night with nine points and six big assists. Brodricks Jones had five points and five rebounds, while Troy Steward had two points, three assists and three rebounds.
This is Georgetown’s seventh trip to the finals where the record is 2-4. Briggs is 1-1 in championships, most recently falling in 2016 in overtime on a last second shot by MidAmerica Christian University.