Union College men to meet NW Ohio in NAIA Div. II National Tournament

Union Men’s Basketball Story: No. 15 Bulldogs Draw Northwestern Ohio in NAIA Championship

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. –  For the first time in program history, the Union College men’s basketball team will enter the 2015 NAIA Division II National Championship as a National Seed, as the Bulldogs are seeded 15th in the field, and will play Northwestern Ohio in the First Round Wednesday, March 11 at 9:30 a.m. EST

The entire Tournament will be played once again at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri.  

Union will enter their tilt with Northwestern Ohio with a 29-4 overall mark, the best in the history of the Bulldog program, and as both Regular Season and Tournament Champions of the Appalachian Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs will also enter the game with a NAIA Division II leading 20-game winning streak, which is also the longest in the history of the program. 

Northwestern Ohio, members of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, will make their first appearance ever in the NAIA Division II National Championship. The Racers come into their game with the Bulldogs sporting a 25-7 overall mark, finishing the year 19-3 in the WHAC. In the final NAIA Division II Coaches’ Poll of the year, UNOH finished 18th overall. 

An at-large selection, UNOH has lost just two games since the beginning of January, both coming to No. 4 Cornerstone (Mich)., who knocked the Racers out of the WHAC Tournament in the semifinals last week.  

The Bulldogs will be led into the game by third-year head coach Kevin Burton, who was named the AAC’s Coach of the Year for the second straight season last week after leading Union to an 17-1 record in AAC play for the year. All-time, this will be Burton’s fifth trip all-time to an NAIA National Championship, as he made three previous trips at the NAIA Division I level. In three seasons at Union, he sports a 72-23 overall mark, 211-98 in 10 seasons at four-year schools

Union continues to be led individually by Deante Johnson (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio), an All-AAC First Team player, who ended the season averaging 14.6 points per game and shooting 72.3 percent from the floor, still the leader in all of NAIA Division II in the category.  

Last week at the AAC Tournament, the Bulldogs were paced by guard Dominique Hagans (SR/Lexington, Ky.), who 11.6 points a game in three contests, recording 17 steals on the defensive end, as well, to earn AAC Tournament MVP honors. For the year, Hagans is averaging 13.9 points a game, ranking 13th in all of NAIA Division II in steals with 63 (in just 20 games).  

As a team, the Bulldogs continue to rank high both on offense and defense. The Bulldogs are number one in all of NAIA Division II in four categories – steals per game (11.8), scoring margin (21.6), field goal percentage (51.7), and total steals (392). Union is also second in both total scoring offense (2896) and total blocks (163), while coming in third in field goal percentage defense (.392). 

Northwestern Ohio will be led into the game by eighth-year head coach Chris Adams. Individually, the Racers are led in the scoring department by Lawrence Jackson, who is averaging 17.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per contest. Guard Josh Scott is one of the top distributors in the country, coming in seventh nationally in assists with 184 and ninth in assists per game at 5.7. 

As a team, the Racers are in the top ten nationally in three categories, coming in ninth in total assists (579), assists per game (18), and three-point field goal percentage (40.1) UNOH is also 11th in field goal percentage at 49.2 percent, as well. 

This will be Union’s third trip all-time to the NAIA Division II National Championship and fourth trip total to the NAIA National stage (1968, 2011, 2014). Last season, the Bulldogs narrowly missed out on winning their first game all-time in an NAIA National Tournament, as a late three by St. Thomas (Fla.) sunk the Bulldogs in a 75-72 heartbreaking loss in the first round. 

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