The Northwest Missouri State University men’s basketball team won the program’s third NCAA Division II national championship with an 80-54 victory over the West Texas A&M University Buffaloes Saturday in the Ford Center in Evansville, IN. Northwest won its three games Elite Eight games by a total margin of 78 points, setting the record that was set previously by Jefferson in the 1970 tournament (75 points). The 26-point win ranks as the second-largest margin of victory in the championship game.
Senior Ryan Hawkins was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Elite Eight scoring a championship game-high 31 points and 18 rebounds. Hawkins was 10-of-16 shooting 9-of-10 at the line. Sophomore Wes Dreamer added 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Dreamer connected on 3-of-5 from three-point land and snared his third career double-double with 11 rebounds. National Player of they Year and junior Trevor Hudgins, who was also named to the all-tournament team, contributed with 15 points, five assists and two steals. He finished his season with an NCAA-high 90 made three-pointers.
West Texas A&M held a short-lived 6-2 lead nearly three minutes into the contest. Northwest responded to the deficit with a 9-0 that relied heavily on Hawkins and Hudgins. Hawkins buried a pair of free throws with 11:12 to play in the half and at that point Hawkins or Hudgins had scored all 19 of Northwest’s points. Northwest led 48-29 at the half and held West Texas A&M to ten points through the first 13:53 of the second half.
Northwest is 3-0 in national championship games and 34-20 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Head coach Ben McCollum recorded his 300th career coaching victory in the win over West Texas A&M. McCollum has guided Northwest to a mark of 300-78 over 12 seasons.