Photos by Brian Beard/www.CIPhotography.com
KANSAS CITY, MO. (March 14, 2012) -- Robert Martinez led the Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's basketball team to a 103-88 win over Baker University to advance to the second round of the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Tournament. This is the 18th time the Saints have reached the century mark and have done so the last seven of eight games.
Martinez's 36 points, including an NAIA-tournament tying 10 3-pointers, wasn't his highest-scoring game ever. Last season, he scored 38 points against the University of the Southwest. Tonight, Martinez hit 12-of-22 field goals including 10-of-16 3-pointers. He is third in the NAIA in 3-pointers/game (3.38) and fourth in total 3-pointers (98) before tonight's game. Earlier this season, he became the Saints' first member of the 1,000-point club.
"Robert is great," Head Coach Russell Vanlandingham said. "He has been one of our biggest success stories. He really came through for the team tonight, and I couldn't be more proud."
The seventh-seeded Saints will face Biola University from La Mirada, Calif., on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the tournament's second round. The Eagles are the 10th seed and advanced to the second round after defeating Campbellsville University 69-57 earlier today.
This is the Saints' first-ever appearance at the national championship tournament. They earned a berth after winning the Red River Athletic Conference regular season. Biola is making its 19th appearance at the nationals including the last three years. The team's record this year is 26-8 overall and 12-6 in the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Saints are now 27-7 and they finished 21-3 in the conference.
|Mike Brown recorded his first double-double of the season.|
The Saints took a while to get their momentum going as the Wildcats hit the court with unstoppable force. Even though the Saints took first possession, they could not connect on their shots. AJ Govan scored on a free throw after missing a jumper, and the team would not add another basket until they were trailing 1-8 after a 3-pointer from Robert Martinez took them to 4-8. Looking nervous, the Saints continued to trail 4-14 with 14 minutes left before the half.
The Saints allowed the Wildcats to score seven more points to trail 6-21. Three pointers from Martinez gave the Saints the needed spark to climb back and embark on a 17-0 run, and a technical foul on Baker head coach Brett Ballard took the Saints to 25-29. Another Martinez 3-pointer gave the Saints the 30-29 lead with seven minutes remaining in the period. The game tied at 33 three minutes later but the Saints came back to lead 44-38. The teams hit the locker room with the Saints leading 44-42.
Martinez, already with 22 points, scored the first baskets to begin the second half to give the Saints the 49-42 lead. Three-pointers from Govan and Lo'Ron Smith increased the Saints lead to 63-48.
Marco Cooper fouled out and Mike Brown went on a tear to get to 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Saints. The Wildcats threatened as they came to within 10 points, but the Saints persevered and won 103-88.
|Josh Orta scored 12 points and added eight assists and four steals.|
The Saints shot 40 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line. The team forced 25 turnovers, while committing 14.
"We started out slow, the guys were nervous, but they're mentally tough," Head Coach Russell Vanlandingham said. "They never gave up, and they bounced back to win."
The NAIA Champions of Character program aims to instill five core values in NAIA athletes, coaches: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership, and sportsmanship. Our Lady of the Lake University shares and supports these values and strives to promote the Champions of Character program by working with students, coaches through our Champions of Character educational program. For more information on the Champions of Character program, click here: www.championsofcharacter.org.
Luis A. Lárraga
Sports Information Assistant