KANSAS CITY – Five players scored in double figures as Vanguard (30-6) downed reigning NAIA champion Georgetown 93-85 to advance to its first-ever national tournament semifinal. The Lions got a team-high 28 points from Preston Wynne (SR/Wellpinit, WA), who also notched six rebounds, four steals and went 7-for-7 from the charity stripe in the contest.
The Pride will face St. Gregory's (Okla.) on Monday at 4:00 p.m. PST in the Fab-Four round. Vanguard is the only remaining seeded-team in the tournament's bracket.
"It's the first time that we've reached the Fab Four at Vanguard, so obviously that's a big deal to us," head coach Rhett Soliday said. "We really do feel like we're playing for ourselves, but also for our whole community at Vanguard, the alumni base, as well as our current faculty and staff."
Wynne's pals and fellow starters, Chris Gorman (JR/Oceanside, CA) and DeAngelo Jones (JR/Cheney, WA), were solid per usual, recording 18 and 15 points, respectively, in the quarterfinal victory. Gorman also shelled out a game-best six assists for The Pride, but the real catalyst for the win was a pair of Vanguard reserves, Zach Allmon (FR/San Luis Obispo, CA) and Selle Hann (JR/Dakar, Senegal), who stepped up to the plate and posted double-figures when the Lions' big man Keith Mason (JR/Carson, CA) found himself in foul trouble early.
Hann, who averages 2.6 points per game on the year, dropped nearly 10 more than his average on Georgetown, scoring 12 on 5-for-6 shooting from the floor. He sank one from deep and grabbed a pair of rebounds in just 10 minutes of action.
"This was an important game for us," Hann said. "We needed everyone to play well for us to get the win. When Keith got in foul trouble, we needed someone off of the bench to come in and give us a good lift. That's what I tried to do and it worked well, but if it wasn't for my teammates I wouldn't have been able to have that kind of a game"
Allmon came off of the bench and contributed an important 14 points for Vanguard. Like Hann, he shot a high percentage from the field (5-for-6) and managed a pair of boards.
Vanguard seized the early momentum in the contest with a 16-3 run to grab a 29-17 advantage at the midway point of the first half. Allmon sparked the spurt with a lay-up and 3-pointer, while Wynne capped the run with a lay-up off a Tiger turnover. Georgetown cut the deficit to nine multiple times throughout the remainder of the half, but never pulled closer than that.
The Lions kept Georgetown at arm's length throughout most of the second half. The Tigers pulled within three points, 81-78, late in the frame on a Monty Wilson floater. However, Vanguard converted 10-of-11 free throws over the course of the final 1:42 to seal the victory.
Turnovers proved key in the contest, as Vanguard forced 12 Georgetown miscues while committing only four of its own. The spread led to a 15-4 advantage in points off turnovers for the Lions.
Vanguard also outscored the Tigers, 28-10, in bench points and 16-9 on second chance points.
Wilson scored 40 points for Georgetown in the loss. Georgetown, who owns the national championship record for most wins (61) and championship appearances (33), ends the season with a 24-11 record.
*Parts of this release taken from naia.org