LAKELAND, Fla. -- When Larry Gipson took the head coaching
job at Northeastern State six years ago, he started looking for
players who were unselfish and disciplined.
He found the perfect mix this year -- one that added up to a
Shon Robinson scored 26 points and Darnell Hinson added 19 to
lead Northeastern State past Kentucky Wesleyan 75-64 Saturday for
its first Division II men's basketball title.
The Redmen (32-3) opened the second half with a flurry of
3-pointers that turned a tie game into a 52-44 lead that they never
''We're going to make one more pass or set one more screen than
the other team's willing to defend,'' Gipson said. ''Going into the
tournament, we put an emphasis on running our game plan and being
precise, and we executed that.''
Northeastern State, nestled in the foothills of the Ozark
Mountains in Tahlequah, Okla., had never been past the regional
Kentucky Wesleyan (31-4) was appearing in its sixth consecutive Division II title game, and its 13th overall. The Panthers have won
eight national titles, including two in the past six years.
Northeastern State won the title this year with only nine
players in uniform. Two players quit during the year, two were lost
to grades and another was injured.
Even with the short bench, the Redmen played a halfcourt motion
offense that created open 3-pointers and wore down opponents.
Robinson, Hinson and Derek Cline -- all guards -- combined for 57
of the team's 75 points, with 27 of them coming on 3-pointers.
The Redmen committed just six turnovers.
''I'd like to tell you we turn these guys into shooters when we
get them,'' Gipson said. ''The truth is, we recruit shooters. ...
We work on shooting before and after practice. We work on coming
off the screens and squaring up for the shots.''
The Redmen were 2-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half,
but quickly got it going after the break. Behind Robinson and
Hinson, the team's first eight field goals after halftime were
''We did a good job of defending the 3-pointers in the first
half,'' Kentucky Wesleyan coach Ray Harper said. ''In the second
half, we just left too many guys open.''
The Redmen were 9-for-14 from 3-point range in the second half.
In the final three games of the tournament, they were a combined
33-for-63 from that distance.
Kentucky Wesleyan's Bobby Zuerner hit a 3-pointer with six
minutes to play that cut the lead to 56-53, but the Panthers
couldn't get any closer.
Northeastern State made 12 of 16 free throws in the final 2:51
to pull away.
Hinson, named the tournament most valuable player, started the 3-point outburst.
Robinson, Derek Cline and Justin Barkley each had two 3s during an
early second-half run.
Robinson finished 3-for-10 from 3-point range. Cline was 3-for-7,
Hinson was 3-for-4 and Barkley was 2-for-2.
Marlon Parmer, who was named the NCAA Division II player of the
year Saturday, led Kentucky Wesleyan with 17 points. Zuerner had 14
and Damon Garris added 10.