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March 30, 2019Game | Basketball
Trevor Hudgins, named the Elite Eight Most Outstanding Player, hoists the national championship trophy high above his head after beating Point Loma. (Photo courtesy Todd Weddle, Northwest Missouri State University)
For the second time in three years, the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats are kings of NCAA Division 2 men's basketball.
Northwest capped a magical season with a 64-58 win over Point Loma (CA) in the national championship.
The win pushes the Bearcats to 38-0 – just the fifth NCAA D2 program to finish as undefeated national champions.
Trevor Hudgins earned most outstanding player honors for the Elite Eight tournament. The redshirt freshman averaged 19.7 points, 4.3 assists and 2 steals per game in wins over Mercyhurst, St. Anselm and Point Loma.
In the championship game, Hudgins scored 12 points and dished six assists while playing all 40 minutes.
Joey Witthus led Northwest in scoring with 24 points on 6-12 shooting and 8-8 at the free throw line. He also had four assists while playing the entirety of the game, and landed on the all-tournament team.
The senior also knocked down one of the biggest shots of the game in the second half.
With the shot clock winding down, Hudgins had a pass deflected, but managed to grab the loose ball and fling it to Witthus near midcourt. Witthus put up a desperation three-pointer as the final second ticked off the shot clock, and he banked it in to extend the Northwest lead to 56-46 with 6:40 remaining in the game. It marked the first double-digit lead of the day for the 'Cats.
Ryan Hawkins also displayed buzzer-beating heroics as the first half came to a close.
Ryan Welty stole a pass from the Sea Lions and flipped a pass to Hawkins on the right wing as the teammates sprinted back on the fast break. Hawkins collected the pass and sank a quick three just before time expired to give Northwest a four-point halftime advantage.
Hawkins, a sophomore, scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win.
Diego Bernard scored 14 points with three rebounds.
Northwest is the first team since Findlay in 2009 to complete an unbeaten national championship season. The Bearcats are also the first team to take two titles in three years since Winona State won in 2006 and 2008.