KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Junior Keith Mason had a career-high 27 points and added 13 rebounds, while senior Preston Wynne produced 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Vanguard University men's basketball team to a 103-94 victory over Life University of Georgia in the first round of the NAIA Tournament on Wednesday.
Vanguard (28-6) matched the 1989-90 Lions for most single-season wins in program history, surpassing its previous single-game scoring best of 101 points this season in the opener against Cal Tech. It was also the Lions' first NAIA Tournament win since 1990, when the school, then known as Southern California College, was eliminated in the second round.
The Lions, the No. 6 overall seed, advance to Friday's second round against No. 11-seeded Benadictine of Kansas. Benedictine (23-8), defeated Westminster of Utah, 70-65, Wednesday. Friday's game tips off at 4:15 PT.
The Lions and Running Eagles (19-15) both made 31 field goals, but Vanguard was 34 of 45 from the free-throw line, while Life made 27 of 37 foul shots. Vanguard also made seven three-pointers, two more than the former three-time NAIA champions.
In addition, Vanguard earned a 51-38 advantage in rebounding.
Mason made 11 of 15 field-goal attempts and had six of his team's 17 offensive rebounds. He added two steals, one block and one assist. It's only the second time all season, the first in 24 games, that Mason, a transfer from Los Angeles Harbor Community College, led the Lions in scoring.
Wynne, the Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, was eight for 22 from the field. He had three three-pointers, two assists, one block and one steal.
Junior guards DeAngelo Jones (21 points and seven rebounds) and Chris Gorman (14 points) had five assists apiece for the winners, who shot 53.6% from the field in the second half.
Vanguard led, 47-39, at halftime and upped the lead to 17 early after intermission.
But Life, which had scored at least 100 points 14 times this season and led the nation averaging nearly 99 points per game, pulled within 71-69 with 9:50 remaining.
Coach Rhett Soliday's GSAC regular-season and tournament champions, making their first NAIA Tournament appearance since 2006, only the second in 24 seasons, never let Life get any closer.
— From staff reports