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(March 25)
-- Northwest Missouri State entered the NCAA Division II championship game as one of the top defensive teams in the nation and used a vintage defensive effort to shut down the third-ranked scoring team in Division II to win its first national title, downing Fairmont State 71-61 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Bearcats, who were allowing just 62.3 points per game entering the title contest, held the Falcons -- who had posted an average of 95.4 points a game prior to the championship matchup -- to just 36.5 percent shooting and became the first team this season to keep Fairmont State from holding a lead in a game, as the Bearcats (35-1) got out to leads of 7-0 and 13-3 out of the gate before a partisan Northwest audience among the sellout crowd.

Justin Pitts, named as the most outstanding player in the Elite Eight as he averaged 25.5 points in the Bearcats' six contests, led the way with 23 points and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Chris-Ebou Ndow, who became the second player in as many years to record a double-double in the championship game with 17 points and 18 rebounds.

Northwest became the second top-ranked team in the last three years to capture the national title and became the first NCAA Division II school to win both the football and men's basketball championships in the same academic year.

Fairmont State, who finished 34-3 and was in the title game itself for the first time, got a game-high 24 points from Matt Bingaya and 17 from Thomas Wimbush, who was also named to the all-tournament team with FSU's Jason Jolly and Bellarmine's Adam Eberhard.

Complete Interactive Tournament Bracket ... 2016-17 All-America Teams: D2CCA / Basketball Times / NABC / Division II Bulletin

SEMIFINAL RECAPS (Click above links for game statistics)

Fairmont State 79, Bellarmine 68

Fairmont State used a swarming defensive effort to capture the first semifinal contest, holding Bellarmine without a three-point basket in the first half and forcing 12 turnovers along the way to build as much as a 23-point lead in the period. The Falcons made eight threes themselves and took a 20-point lead to the locker room before Bellarmine made a run in the second half.

The Knights (32-4), shot 57.7 percent in the second half and closed the gap to eight, but behind the shooting of D'Ondre Stockman, the Falcons (34-2) reached their first championship game at the NCAA Division II level.

Stockman led four Falcons in double figures with a career-high 23 points, while Rusty Troutman and Adam Eberhard had 15 apiece to lead Bellarmine. Eberhard had 13 rebounds and finished one assist shy of a triple-double in the contest.

Northwest Missouri State 79, Lincoln Memorial 67

Justin Pitts, named earlier in the day as the NABC's national player of the year, came up big in the final minutes as Northwest broke free from Lincoln Memorial to reach the NCAA Division II championship game for the first time in school history.

Pitts, averaging better than 30 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, scored a game-high 30 points to get the Bearcats (34-1) over the hump in a game that saw 14 lead changes, nine of which came in the second half. Pitts went six-of-eight from the floor in the second half and got some help on the offensive end from Zach Schneider with 13 points and eight from D'Vante Mosby -- all of those from that duo coming in the second half.

Luquon Choice led four Railsplitters (30-6) in double figures with 18 points, as Lincoln Memorial came up just short of a second straight trip to the national title game.

QUARTERFINAL RECAPS (Click above links for game statistics)

Fairmont State 86, Rollins 68

After jumping out to a double-figure lead in the first half -- only to see Rollins cut the lead to one by halftime -- Fairmont State took control of the first contest of the afternoon as it used an 11-0 run to take another double-digit lead that it would not relinquish.

Jason Jolly, who helped spark the run, scored a career-high 28 points and connected seven times from three-point range as the Falcons (33-2) hit 13 shots from beyond the arc. He got scoring help from Vonte Montgomery, who finished with 21 points and Thomas Wimbush, who added 15.

The Falcons held Rollins (24-11) to just 38 percent from the floor in the second half after the Tars had made 62 percent of their tries in the opening half of action. Sam Philpott led Rollins with 22 points>

Bellarmine 92, Colorado School of Mines 72

The Knights, the top field goal shooting team in NCAA Division II, used a surge over the final 10 minutes of the first half to build a 16-point halftime lead and cruised into the semifinal round for the fourth time in the last seven years.

Adam Eberhard paced Bellarmine with 26 points -- going 10-of-12 from the field -- as the Knights shot 59 percent from the field and made 10 three-pointers in the contest. On the other end, the Knight defense held the Orediggers to just 37 percent shooting and to eight-of-32 in the second half to improve to 32-3.

Luke Schroepfer led Colorado School of Mines (30-5), making its first-ever appearance at the Elite Eight, with 18 points.

Northwest Missouri State 79, St. Thomas Aquinas 70

Northwest Missouri State advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals for the first time ever by holding off St. Thomas Aquinas in the first evening semifinal, as the top-ranked Bearcats got 26 points from Justin Pitts to come away with the win.

Pitts finished with 26 points to lead Northwest (33-1), which survived nine second half turnovers and a 55.2 percent shooting performance by the Spartans in the final 20 minutes, as they made 50 percent of their own shots and which included five three-pointers..

Justin Reyes recorded his 41st straight double figure outing with a game-high 28 points to lead St. Thomas Aquinas (28-6), who was making its first-ever Elite Eight appearance.

Lincoln Memorial 74, Chico State 61

Wednesday's final contest had 16 lead changes and 15 ties, the last of which was at 54 apiece following a basket by Chico State's Justin Briggs with 8:03 to play. However, the Railsplitters scored 13 of the next 14 points and outscored the Wildcats 20-7 to close the game to advance to the semifinals.

Luquon Choice had 22 points to lead the Railsplitters (30-5), who advanced beyond the first round of the Elite Eight for the second year in successsion. Lincoln Memorial shot 55.2 percent in the second half to overcome a sluggish first half from the field and move along in the tournament.

Chico State (26-8) was led by Robert Duncan with 18 points, while Isaiah Ellis finished with 16 and 10 rebounds.