This is the fourth NCCAA men's basketball title for Point Loma after winning three straight from 1984-87. The victory was the Sea Lions’ 20th win of the season and their fifth in a row. It is also the second time in head coach Bill Carr’s three seasons with PLNU that the Sea Lions have reached the 20-win plateau.
The last victory of the season did not come easy for No. 4-seeded Point Loma, which got all it could handle from tournament host and No. 7 seed Grace College. The Sea Lions fought all 40 minutes and through a number of different Lancer comeback attempts to earn the NCCAA championship.
“I am very proud of these guys for sticking with it all year,” said Carr. "We had ups and downs and injuries. Just to get to this point and play for a national title is all you ask for from your players as a coach. And to actually get it done is something they will remember forever."
Hayden Lescault, who was named an NCCAA All-American last week, led five student-athletes in double-figures for PLNU with 14 points. He added a team-leading five assists. Junior Morgan recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds off the bench. AJ Ussery and Marek Klassen also added 13 points apiece, while Sam Okhotin came off the bench with 10.
Point Loma shot 53 percent in the game and held Grace to just 42 percent shooting. The Sea Lions also dominated the glass as they outrebounded the Lancers 31-23 and outscored them 10-5 in second-chance points. PLNU's bench also outscored Grace's 21-11 thanks to the efforts of Okhotin and Morgan.
Greg Miller had 22 points to pace Grace. Brandon Vanderhegghen also added 19 points.
Women’s tennis team
continues to roll in March
The month of March has been a good one for the Point Loma women’s tennis team, as it has gone 6-2 since the calendar turned, including winning a season-best four straight matches.
The Sea Lions' latest victory came on March 22 at Westmont, where PLNU prevailed with a convincing 7-2 victory over the No. 12 ranked team in the NAIA, Westmont.
PLNU is now 9-7 on the season, while Westmont fell to 6-7.
The Sea Lions won at every spot besides No. 1 singles and doubles. Both doubles points were hard earned as Hillary Ramage and Maika Adair edged the Warriors' duo at No. 2s, 8-6, while Kaitlyn Murray and Preethika Venugopal prevailed at No. 3s, 8-4.
In singles, PLNU won four of its five points in straight sets. Venugopal did not drop a game in her match with Grace Davis as she swept her 6-0 and 6-0 at No. 5.
Regina von Koch had nearly as convincing a victory at No. 2 singles with a 6-1 and 6-0 win. Hope Penner also made quick work of her opponent with a 6-2 and 6-0 win at No. 3s. Ramage was challenged a bit at No. 6 singles by Emily Keach but still won in consecutive sets, 6-3 and 6-3.
Sharon Reibstein's match was the only one to go three sets, but the Sea Lions' senior was able to pull out the victory, 3-6, 6-4 and 6-2.
Torres delivers Sea Lions’
game-winning hit in the ninth
Anthony Torres came through with the biggest hit in his young career with the Sea Lions as he singled in the game winning run with two outs in the ninth inning to send Point Loma past Cal State San Bernardino 2-1 in a non-conference contest on March 22.
The game was tied at 1-1 since the fifth inning when Clinton Harwick brought in Trey Hunt on a fielder's choice grounder.
PLNU (14-13) then rallied to score its second run, all with two outs. Lucas DiCiccio got things started with a single and then advanced to second on a base hit by Hunt.
Torres then laced the ball into left field and DiCiccio scampered around third base with the winning run.
Mickey Dunleavy (2-1) picked up the win with two solid innings of relief in which he gave up just two hits. He closed out his own victory as the Coyotes made it interesting in the ninth inning with a leadoff single, stranding the runner at second base for his second victory of the season.
PLNU used a pitcher by committee early in the game as Kellen Sheppard and Kevin Lillicrop each pitched three innings, and fellow starter Garrett Gooding turned in a scoreless seventh inning.
Cal State San Bernardino set up its staff similarly. It used 10 pitchers in the contest. Matt LeVert took the loss after allowing three hits and one run in one and two-thirds innings of work.
Torres and Hunt each had two hits for the Sea Lions, who were outhit 8-7 in the game overall. Nick Oddo was 3-for-3 with the lone RBI for CSUSB.
Point Loma will now return home to resume PacWest Conference play on Friday, March 28 against Azusa Pacific.
The series will start with a doubleheader at noon.