Westmont stuns top-seeded Hope International to reach NAIA men’s final

Wire reports

Sophomore guard Cory Blau hit the game-winning jumper with 7.1 seconds remaining to lift unseeded Westmont to a 70-69 victory over No. 1-seeded Hope International on Monday in the semifinals of the NAIA Division I men’s basketball championship in Kansas City, Mo.

Westmont, located in Montecito near Santa Barbara, will face sixth-seeded Dalton State in the championship game Tuesday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. The Dalton, Ga., school defeated No. 2-seeded Talladega (Ala.), 64-54.

Blau hit the game-winner from the right elbow of the key after Hope International had taken the lead with 16 seconds to play on a floater in the lane by Kenny Morgan. The Royals got a final chance to go back in front at the buzzer, but Morgan missed a 17-footer.


“Hope International [is] an incredible team and we are very fortunate,” Westmont Coach John Moore said. ". . . They hit a big shot at the end and it looked like it might have won the game for them. But we put the ball in our best guy’s hand and Cory Blau had no hesitation. He buried that shot.”

Hope International, located in Fullerton, defeated Westmont (25-10) twice in Golden State Athletic Conference play this season, but the Warriors led Monday’s game from the 15:20 mark of the first half until Morgan’s shot in the final seconds.

In the semifinals of the women’s NAIA tournament, also in Kansas City, Westmont, seeded fourth, lost to defending national champion Oklahoma City, 77-57. The Stars will play for their NAIA-record eighth national title Tuesday against Campbellsville (Ky.), which defeated Freed-Hardeman of Tennessee, 56-52.