CIRCLEVILLE, OH - OCU came out on top as the 2013 NCCAA Champions defeated the 2012 NCCAA Champions from Grace Bible College, 79-64. Ohio Christian knocked down seven of its 13 three-pointers in the second half on Friday to breeze past Grace Bible by fifteen points in a National Christian College Athletic Association Division II men's basketball semifinal game.
"We focused in and made some shots, especially in the second half when we needed to," Ohio Christian coach Tony Stockman said. "We had a number of different people step up and contribute, and that's what makes this team difficult to guard."
The top-seeded Trailblazers (24-10) will seek to win their second straight national championship today when they take on second-seeded Arlington Baptist at 5 p.m. The Patriots defeated Lancaster Bible 70-65 to advance to the final.
The two teams met last season in the national championship game, with the Trailblazers winning 73-62.
"It's a great opportunity for our guys, and it makes it fun for them," Stockman said. "Arlington Baptist has a great team, and they're going to be tough to beat.
"It's going to be a test for us, both with our toughness and how aggressive we can be to them. We have to rebound well and keep them out of the paint. If Arlington Baptist rebounds a lot more than we do and scores in the paint a lot, then we'll be in trouble."
Danny Schrock led the Trailblazers by draining 5 of 11 three-pointers to score 15 points. Wesley Russell had a solid all-around game with 11 points, 13 assists and five steals, and Evin Bartlett and Ernie McCoy each added 11 points.
The Trailblazers used a 7-0 spurt started by McCoy to take an eight-point lead into halftime. The 5-foot-9 senior guard drained a three from the left corner with 2:47 left before halftime, then stole the ball on the ensuing inbound and was fouled by Travis Rader. McCoy drained both free throws to make it 42-33 OCU.
OCU went on a 14-3 run to start the second half, led by two three-pointers from Bartlett and a three-ball each from Schrock and JJ Smith.
"We talked to the guys about coming out ready and playing aggressive, because we wanted to make a run to start the second half," Stockman said. "A big part of this win was the way our guys focused in on things that we had to do, and they kept that focus throughout the game.
"We play more players than Grace Bible does, so we felt like we'd wear them down as the game went along."
The fifth-seeded Tigers (17-18) cut the Trailblazers lead down to eight with 8:50 left, but OCU responded with 10 straight points to take a 74-56 lead with 6:16 left, and put the game away.
Schrock knocked down a pair of triples, and Russell added a jumper, steal, and a layup.
"Danny went 0 of 5 from the field in our last game, but stepped up and hit some big shots for us," Stockman said. "We talk to our guys about keeping their confidence and battling through things."
The Trailblazers forced 18 turnovers, while committing just seven.
Jake Blauwkamp led the Tigers with 13 points, Cameron Cramer contributed 12 points and eight rebounds and Jared Bradford added nine points.
"We were able to contest a lot of Grace Bible's shots and get stops, and I was also glad we didn't get over anxious trying to steal the ball," Stockman said. "Sometimes we get out of position and that leads to easy shots."