Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) beats Langston (Okla.) 71-67 for program's first NAIA championship

Freed-Hardeman forward Devin Tomlinson (33) celebrates after a NAIA men's national championship college basketball game against Langston, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. Freed-Hardeman won 71-67. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Quan Lax had 15 points, JJ Wheat scored four of his nine points in the final 35 seconds, and Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) closed on a 10-0 run to beat Langston (Okla.) 71-67 on Tuesday night for the program’s first NAIA championship.

Freed-Hardeman trailed 67-61 with 54 seconds remaining before its full-court defense caused problems for Langston, which turned it over 19 times overall.

Geraldo Lane made a steal and converted a shot in the lane while being fouled with 42.1 seconds left. He made the free throw to pull Freed-Hardeman within 67-66. Langston turned it over again and Wheat was fouled before making both free throws to take the lead.

Langston had a shot blocked and Wheat raced the other way for a fast-break layup to make it 70-67 at 12.4.

After a timeout Langston missed a 3-pointer, Freed-Hardeman tapped it out to midcourt and the game appeared to be over as confetti dropped onto the court. But officials put 0.2 seconds on the clock and the celebration was delayed. Peyton Law made 1 of 2 free throws to end it.

Freed-Hardeman (32-4) finished the season on a 12-game winning streak. Langston (35-2), which was also seeking the program’s first national championship, lost for just the second time all season.

Law finished with 10 points for Freed-Hardeman. Hunter Scurlock added 12.

Anthony Roy led Langston with 17 points. Cortez Mosley added 14 and Toru Dean scored 10 of his 12 in the first half.

Ronald Mitchell made a layup with 1:24 remaining in the first half to give Langston the first double-digit lead of the game at 40-30 following an 8-0 run. Langston led by as many as 13 points early in the second half.

Wheat put back his own miss to tie it at 50-all with 8:04 remaining. Seconds later, Freed-Hardeman coach Drew Stutts was called for a technical foul after Wheat was called for his fourth foul and Langston made all four free throws.


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