Men's Basketball Preview: Vanguard vs. Benedictine

Vanguard University Pregame

Vs. Benedictine College of Kansas

Friday at 4:15 p.m. PT at Kansas City, Mo.

The Vanguard University men's basketball team will try to add to a historic season when it faces Benedictine in the second round of the NAIA Tournament on Friday at 4:15 PT in Municipal Arena in Kansas City, Mo.

The Lions (28-6) have tied the 1988-89 team for the school record for most wins in a single season and captured the program's first Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament crown after collecting its third GSAC regular-season title.

Coach Rhett Soliday's squad, the No. 6 seed, held off Life University of Kansas, 103-94, in Wednesday's first round, behind a career-high 27 points from junior Keith Mason, who added 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.

The Lions have won five in a row and seven of their last nine.

Benedictine (23-8), rallied to top Westminster of Utah, 70-65, in Wednesday's first round. It was the first time all season the Ravens won after trailing at halftime. Down, 37-25, late in the first half, Benedictine, the No. 11 overall seed, scored the final five points of the first half, then the first nine of the second half to capture the lead for good.

Charlie Wallrapp, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, led the Ravens with 19 points and eight rebounds, while 6-8 junior Jallen Messersmith had 15 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots in the win.

Wallrapp averages a team-best 15.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for Coach Ryan Moody.

John Harris, a 6-2 sophomore guard, averages 11.1 points per game, while Messersmith's 74 blocks this season rank No. 3 in NAIA Division I.

Benedictine junior guard Brett Fisher ranks third in Division I in three-point shooting accuracy (47.3%), helping the Ravens shoot 40.7% from threedom as a team, fourth-best in Division I.

Vanguard is led by senior guard Preston Wynne, the GSAC Player of the Year, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the first-round win. Wynne is averaging 20 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and leads the Lions with 105 three-pointers this season.

Junior guard Chris Gorman, an All-GSAC performer, averages 15.6 points and a team-best 3.9 assists, while junior guard DeAngelo Jones is contributing 13.1 points per contest for the Lions.

Mason averages 10 points and 5.9 rebounds per outing, while freshman reserve Zach Allmon is chipping in 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

The first-round win was the second in Vanguard history, the first since 1990. The Lions are in the national tournament for the first time since 2006, the second time since 1990.

Friday's winner advances to Saturday's quarterfinals, in which it will face either No. 3-seeded William Carey of Mississippi (28-2) or Georgetown of Kentucky (23-10) at 2 p.m. PT.

— Barry Faulkner

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