SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Justin Pitts scored 23 points, Chris-Ebou Ndow had a double-double and Northwest Missouri State beat Fairmont State 71-61 Saturday in the NCAA Division II championship game.
Ndow finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds and Anthony Woods scored 13 with five rebounds and five assists for Northwest Missouri State (35-1). The Bearcats won their first men’s basketball national championship and became the first D-II school to win the title in football and basketball in the same academic year.
Pitts hit a 3-pointer to open the game, a layup by Woods made it 13-3 lead about 5½ minutes in and Northwest Missouri State took a 32-21 lead into the break. Another 3 by Pitts gave the Bearcats their biggest lead, 36-22, with 18 minutes to go and Fairmont State (34-3) trailed by at least eight the rest of the way.
Matt Bingaya had 24 points and seven rebounds and Thomas Winbush scored 17 with eight boards for the Falcons.
A layup by Shammgod Wells cut Fairmont’s deficit to 60-52 with 4:54 left, but Ndow answered with a layup eight seconds later and the Falcons missed their next eight shots, and two free throws by Ndow made it 68-54 with 1:12 remaining.
Fairmont, which came in averaging 95.4 points per game, shot just 31 percent (9 of 29) from the field in the first half. The Falcons set season lows for points in a half (21 in the first) and total points.
Both teams were appearing in their first D-II national championship game and each set school records for wins in a season.