Bellevue handles William Jessup in NAIA opener

Fourth-seeded Bellevue (Neb.) limited William Jessup to one field goal over the final five minutes en route to an 85-67 first round win at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Tournament. Bellevue opened up a quick 7-0 lead and extended it out to 15-5 during the opening minutes. William Jessup rallied behind back-to-back three-pointers by Tevin Hurd and Kadeem Kirsten to get within one (22-21). The Warriors tied it at 25 with five minutes left in the first half until the Bruins gradually built the lead to four, 35-31, at intermission. Bellevue shot 47% in the opening half and was led by Ousseynou Diop who scored eight points off the bench. Hurd and Kirsten each scored seven for William Jessup.
The Bruins continued to pull away early in the second half and after a Josh VanderSlice jumper, Bellevue held a 57-47 advantage. A basket by Bruins guard Avery Tyler put the score at 61-50 but William Jessup fought back to within seven with five minutes left (69-62). Bellevue’s defense buckled down however and suffocated the Warriors offense over the final five minutes to pull out the win. Clutch free throw shooting was also key in the Bruins’ win, making 9-of-10 from the line.
Avery Tyler led a balanced Bellevue offense with 20 points, 16 coming in the second half. The junior guard scored nine of the final 16 points for the Bruins. Antoine Dade scored 15 while Jelani Johnson netted 11. Four other Bruins’ players added at least seven points. Bellevue held a 37-26 advantage on the glass, led by Tyler with nine.
Kadeem Kirsten paced the balanced William Jessup offense with 14 points. Jason Washington and Tevin Hurd added 12 each while Damal Neil and Eleazar Jones netted 10. The Warriors struggled from the field, shooting 37% for the game. William Jessup ends the season with a 17-14 record. They were playing in their first ever national tournament.
Bellevue, now 26-7, advances to the second round for the fourth straight year where they will face either #13 Cedarville (Ohio) or Warner Pacific (Ore.).