KANSAS CITY, Mo. - 3/15/2007 - by: Scott Cummings, NAIA Media Coordinator
Fast start propels Bulldogs into NAIA round of 16
No. 12 seed Union University (Tenn.) jumped out to an early 20-point lead on its way to a 75-62 victory against California Baptist University Thursday in the first round of the 2007 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
Senior guard Mack Bealim and senior forward Deywane Lee each posted a double-double in helping the Bulldogs to their first NAIA tournament victory since 2002. Bealim finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Lee contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds in the effort. As a team, Union held a 46-22 edge in rebounding against California Baptist.
With the victory, Union improves to 24-9 on the year. The Bulldogs advance to Friday's second round to meet Southern Nazarene University (Okla.) or Westminster College (Utah) in a 2:15 p.m. CDT tip-off.
Union raced to a 29-9 lead with 9:14 left in the opening period. The Bulldogs stretched the margin to as many as 27 points before taking a 48-28 lead into the locker room. Union connected on 60 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half. The Bulldogs were able to maintain a double-digit throughout the second half, although California Baptist pulled to within 52-41 on a basket by sophomore forward Mark Roussin with 13:37 to play.
Senior center Pierry Valmera chipped in with 15 points while senior center Ben Frederick came off the bench to post 11 points for Union.
Thursday's loss marks the first time in its three NAIA tournament appearances that California Baptist has been defeated in the first round. The Lancers were led by Roussin, who scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Senior forward Jemell Swafford connected for 15 points for California Baptist, which ends its year with a record of 20-11.
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