KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vanguard University is no longer just a women's basketball power. The Costa Mesa school's men's team defeated defending NAIA champion Georgetown of Kentucky, 93-85, on Friday to reach the NAIA Division I Final Four.
The Lions (30-6) will meet St. Gregory's of Oklahoma (24-9) in the semifinals on Monday at 2 p.m. PT at Municipal Auditorium.
No. 6-seeded Vanguard had not advanced past the second round in its two previous NAIA Tournament appearances. But Coach Rhett Soliday's squad, which claimed the Golden State Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships, has won seven in a row, including three straight in Kansas City, and is the highest seeded team remaining in the 32-team tournament.
Senior guard Preston Wynne, the GSAC Player of the Year, had 28 points to lead the Lions in Saturday's quarterfinal.
Junior guard Chris Gorman added 18 points and six assists, while junior DeAngelo Jones (15 points), freshman Zach Allmon (14) and junior Selle Hann (12) also scored in double figures. Wynne and junior Keith Mason shared the team lead with six rebounds and Gorman had a team-high six assists..
Hann was five for six from the field and Allmon made four of five field-goal tries to help the winners shoot 44.9%. Vanguard made 23 of 26 foul shots, including 10 of 12 in the final 1:17 to hold off the No. 14-seeded Tigers (24-11), who upset No. 3-seeded William Carey to reach the quarterfinals.
Vanguard committed just four turnovers and forced 12 to overcome a disadvantage in rebounding (36-33) and the Tigers' 49.1% shooting from the field (27 for 55).
The Lions trailed, 12-10, before going on a 15-2 run to establish command. They never trailed again.
Georgetown closed to within 61-59 with 13:17 left and within 81-78 with 2:08 remaining. But a Gorman field goal upped the lead to 83-78 with 1:42 left and the Lions scored their final 12 points from the free-throw line.
Monty Wilson, the 2013 NAIA Tournament MVP, had 40 points and nine rebounds for Georgetown, which received 18 points and 13 rebounds from Deondre McWhorter.
Vanguard's 30 wins are a season record for the program, which advanced to the second round in the 1990 NAIA Tournament and lost in the first round in the 2006 event. The GSAC Tournament title was a first for the Lions and the regular-season crown was only the third in the program's history.
The Vanguard women's program was ranked No. 1 all season before being upset in the second round of the NAIA Tournament on Friday in Frankfurt, Ky. Coach Russ Davis' Lions have been to 16 NAIA tournaments in his 18 seasons, including the last 13 in a row. The Lions won the NAIA title in 2008 and made additional Final Four appearances in 2007, 2006 and 2003.
Soliday, in his fourth season at the helm after a stint as an assistant at UC Irvine and Concordia, where he also played, was an assistant coach at Concordia when the Eagles won the NAIA crown in 2003, and lost in the title game in 2004.
St. Gregory's overcame a seven-point deficit midway through the second half to knock off No. 10-seeded Freed-Hardeman of Tennessee, 84-82, in Saturday's quarterfinals. Senior forward Josiah Campbell, who had two points in the first 39-plus minutes, made a driving layup as time expired for the difference in a game that featured 13 lead changes and 12 ties.
The Cavaliers, who have six players averaging in double figures, were led by 5-foot-9 junior guard Marty Wilkerson, who is producing 20.6 points per game. Wilkerson had 32 points Saturday, including six three-pointers.
The other semifinal Monday pits No. 8-seeded Emmanuel of Georgia (32-3) against unseeded Mid-American Nazarene of Kansas (26-10).
The championship game, televised live on ESPN 3, is Tuesday at 5:30 PT.