Three Missouri schools opened up first round action Wednesday at the Men’s NAIA Division I National Basketball Tournament in Kansas City.  Unranked Lindenwood University out of St. Charles advances after a 78-72 win over 14th ranked St. Catharine KY.  Columbia College and Park University lost their first round games.  Two more Missouri schools play today.  Evangel tips at 2:15, William Jewell at 6:15.  The recaps from all three games are right here courtesy of

A blocked shot by senior forward Larriques Cunningham at the buzzer helped Lee University (Tenn.) preserve a 69-67 victory over Columbia College (Mo.) in the first round of the 2011 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship Wednesday at Municipal Auditorium.

With 4.9 seconds remaining in the contest, Columbia junior guard Henrique Medeiros took an inbounds pass down the length of the court and drove in for a lay-up attempt. Cunningham came from the weak side to block the shot away as the buzzer sounded to send Lee, now 23-8 on the year, into Friday’s second round. The Flames, the No. 16 seed in this year’s 32-team field, will take on top-seeded Robert Morris University (Ill.) Friday at 10:45 a.m. CT.

Senior forward Antonio Haymon scored a team-high 16 points for Lee, while senior Jarel Blocker chipped in with 13 points. This will be second consecutive appearance in the second round of tournament play for the Flames, and the third in four years.

Lee never trailed in the contest, starting the game on an 11-4 run before stretching the margin to as many as 15 points, 39-24, with 2:14 left in the first half. The Flames shot 60 percent from the field (15-of-25) in the first 20 minutes of play in taking a 39-30 lead at the intermission.

Columbia (26-6) clawed back into contention in the early stages of the second half, opening the period on an 11-5 run to pull within 14:54 to play. Lee increased its lead back to nine points before a burst of seven consecutive points helped the Cougars rally within 52-50 midway through the half. Senior forward Jaron Strickland scored the first five points of the run for Columbia.

The Flames continued to hold the lead down the stretch, and two free throws by Blocker pushed Lee’s lead to 68-63 with 25 seconds left. Columbia answered with a basket by senior forward Greg Stegeman five seconds later to help the Cougars pull back with three points. After the Flames came up empty on two free throw attempts, Strickland brought the Cougars within 68-67 on a field goal with 10.9 seconds to play.

Columbia fouled on the inbounds play, and Lee senior guard Stephen McClellan hit one of two free throws to extend the Flames’ lead back to two points with 4.9 seconds to go. The Cougars then called a timeout to set up Medeiros’ final drive downcourt.

Strickland led a balanced attack for Columbia with 16 points. Junior forward Jordan Dressler connected for 13 points, while Medeiros and junior guard Taylor Evans each posted 11 points. The Cougars wrap up their 2010-11 season with an overall record of 26-6.

Unseeded Lindenwood University (Mo.) made nine of 10 free throws in the final minute of play to hang on for a 78-72 victory over No. 14 seed St. Catharine College (Ky.) Wednesday in first-round action at the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship Wednesday at Municipal Auditorium.

Junior guard Kramer Soderberg made all 11 of his free throw attempts – including six in the last 60 seconds – on his way to a game-high 27 points for the Lions. Lindenwood improves to 29-5 on the year and moves on to Friday’s second round action. The Lions will meet either No. 3 Mountain State University (W.Va.) or Park University (Mo.) in the round of 16 Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Sophomore guard Alex Bazzell connected for 14 points and added seven rebounds, while senior guard Richard Rose registered 13 points for Lindenwood, which collected its first-ever win at the NAIA Division I Naitonal Championship. The Lions had a big game at the free throw line, hitting 33-of-40 attempts (82.5 percent). That included an 87 percent clip (20-of-23) in the second half.

St. Catharine grabbed its only lead of the second half, 64-62, on a three-pointer from junior guard Brandon Johnson with 5:52 remaining. Lindenwood scored the next five points to take the lead for good, but the Patriots battled the Lions down the stretch, staying within three points heading into the final minute of action. With Lindenwood holding a slim 69-68 lead, Soderberg started hitting his clutch free throw in the closing moments. His last two of the game, with just under eight seconds to play, gave the Lions a 76-72 advantage. Then, after a St. Catharine miss, Bazzell sealed the victory by hitting two foul shots with 0.7 seconds to go.

Junior guard Marquis Lee came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points for St. Catharine, which was making its first national tournament appearance. Senior forward Xavier Keeling chipped in with 16 points, while junior guard Kashiff Carr added 15 points. Junior guard Antoine Watson had a double-double for the Patriots with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. St. Catharine, which closed out its season with a 22-9 record, held a 43-28 edge on the boards.

Five Cougars scored in double-figures, as No. 3 Mountain State University (W.Va.) defeated unseeded Park University (Mo.) 83-58 Wednesday in first-round action at the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.

Junior forward Cam Miller scored 14 second half points en route to a game-high 17 for the Cougars. With the win, Mountain State improves to 30-3 on the season and 10-3 in first round contests. The Cougars will meet Lindenwood University (Mo.) in second round action on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Freshman center David Nyarsuk recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while senior Tyler Spann registered 14 points on five-of-six shooting from the floor. Other double-digit scorers for Mountain State included Doug Wiggins with 12 and Winston Robinson with 11. Wiggins and Spann recorded a combined 10 assists in the effort. As a team, Mountain State shot 51.6 percent (32-of-62) from the field and 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from beyond the arc. The Cougars dominated the glass outrebounding Park 49-30.

Mountain State led the entire contest, growing their lead to double-figures at, 32-22, on a free throw from Wiggins. A Park three-pointer from junior guard Wardell Satterwhite cut the deficit to 36-27 with 2:44 remaining in the opening frame. The two sides traded baskets for the remainder of the period as Mountain State held a 40-32 advantage at the break.

Park’s Reco Anderson opened the second period with a runner in the lane to cut the Cougar lead to six (40-34). However, Mountain State took complete control from that point, as the Cougars went on a 14-0 run to take a 57-34 lead with 15:05 left. The run was capped by a Mantas Dungy lay-up off a Pirate turnover. The Cougars maintained the momentum the rest of the way en route to the 25-point win.

Senior center Kyle Rausch and junior forward Tyler Price scored 11 points apiece to lead the Park offense. The Pirates ended the game shooting 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the floor, while the defense forced 20 Cougar turnovers. With the loss, Park University ends the season with a 21-9 record and fall to 5-5 in four tournament appearances.