NW Missouri St. beats Augusta for 3rd straight D-II title

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Trevor Hudgins hit five 3-pointers and finished with 31 points to help fifth-seeded Northwest Missouri State beat Augusta 67-58 Saturday and the Bearcats became the first program in history to win three consecutive Division II national championships.

Northwest Missouri State (34-5) improved to 4-0 in championship games has won four of the last five titles, beginning with the program’s first in 2017 (the 2020 D-II NCAA Tournament was not played due to COVID-19).

“I’ve just been blessed with really good kids,” Northwest Missouri State coach Ben McCollum. “It makes me like I can coach a little bit.”

Luke Waters added 12 points and Mitch Mascari scored 11 for the Bearcats, who finished their season on an 11-game win streak.

Tyshaun Crawford had 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for No. 3 seed Augusta (33-4). Troy Cracknell and Tyree Myers scored 12 points apiece.

Crawford hit a free throw to give the Jaguars its biggest lead of the game at 17-10 before Hudgins took over, hitting four 3s and scoring 20 of his 22 first-half points during a 29-11 run over the final 12 minutes to give Northwest Missouri State an 11-point halftime lead.

Hudgins’ final 3-pointer gave the Bearcats a 52-34 lead with 13:48 to play before Crawford threw down a dunk, the first of 10 straight Augusta points to begin a 22-5 spurt that trimmed the deficit to 57-56 when Miguel Arnold made a 3-pointer with 2:38 to play. But the Jaguars missed their next seven field-goal attempts and Northwest Missouri State — which made 3 of 7 from the free-throw line to that point — hit 8-of-10 free throws from there to seal it.

Hudgins, the reigning two-time Division II player of the year, finished 11-of-24 shooting with five assists.

Augusta had its 19-game win streak snapped and lost for the first time since a 79-66 loss at Flagler College on Jan. 22.

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