EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Joey Witthus scored 24 points and Northwest Missouri State capped an undefeated season with a 64-58 victory over Point Loma (Calif.) on Saturday for its second Division II championship in three seasons.
Northwest Missouri State (38-0) became just the fifth team in Division II history to go undefeated with a national title, most recently by Findlay in 2009. The Bearcats also tied last season's champion Ferris State (38-1) for the most wins in Division II history.
Sophomore forward Ryan Hawkins had nine points, 12 rebounds and four steals for the Bearcats. Freshmen guard Trevor Hudgins, who scored 27 in the semifinals, added 12 points with six assists and classmate Diego Bernard scored 14.
"To go undefeated, starting two freshman and a sophomore, is unreal," Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. The Bearcats lost four veteran leaders from its 2017 championship and 2018 NCAA tournament teams.
Northwest closed the first half on a 7-0 run, capped by Hawkins' transition 3-pointer just before the buzzer, for a four-point lead. Witthus had 12 points in the first half, and gave the Bearcats a 56-46 lead with 6:43 remaining by banking in a 3-pointer from the logo just before the shot clock expired.
Division II player of the year Daulton Hommes, who led the Pacific West Conference in scoring at 21.7 points per game, scored 26 points for Point Loma (31-5). Preston Beverly added 15 points with nine rebounds.
It was Point Loma's first title game in just its second NCAA tournament appearance.