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March 27, 2021Game | Basketball
Northwest Missouri State University reached the mountain top of NCAA Division 2 men's basketball once again with a 80-54 win over West Texas A&M Saturday to claim the program's third national championship.
The Bearcats capped the 2020-21 season with a 28-2 record, and outscored their opponents in the Elite Eight by 78 points. It marks the largest total victory margin in the final three games in the history of the tournament.
The Buffs (19-3) held a 6-2 lead three minutes into the ball game, but the Bearcats answered with a 9-0 run to take a 11-6 lead. West Texas A&M battled back to tie the game 13-13 with 13:29 remaining in the first half.
Back-to-back buckets by Trevor Hudgins and Ryan Hawkins put Northwest in front, and a pair of free throws from Hawkins opened a 19-13 lead with all of the Bearcat scoring coming from those two first team All-Americans.
The lead continued to grow for Northwest as the quick spurt from Hudgins and Hawkins resulted in a 19-6 run that anchored the two-seed in the Elite Eight to a 32-19 lead.
At halftime, the Bearcats were in front 48-29 at halftime. A strong half offensively was overshadowed by the defensive performance from Northwest. West Texas A&M's 29 points were the fewest the Buffs scored in an opening half all season.
The Buffs led the Lone Star Conference this season with 90 points per game, but were limited to a season-low 54 points on 31.3-percent shooting.
Hawkins won the Elite Eight's Most Outstanding Player award after putting up a game-high 31 points and 18 rebounds.
Hudgins also joined Hawkins on the all-tournament team posting 15 points, five assists, two steals and no turnovers.
Wes Dreamer put up 19 points on 8-11 shooting and snared 11 rebounds on the biggest stage.
Luke Waters finished with 13 points for the Bearcats.
As a team, Northwest shot 50-percent from the field and outrebounded West Texas A&M 43-33.
The win also marked number 300 for Bearcat head coach Ben McCollum as he moved to 3-0 in national championship games.